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The green cloud: how sustainable is cloud computing?

Cloud computing has become an integral part of our digital world, offering convenience, scalability and cost-efficiency. However, as our focus on sustainability grows, it is important to examine the environmental impact of cloud computing. 

In this article, we explore the concept of the “green cloud” and delve into the sustainability aspects of cloud computing. From energy consumption and data centre efficiency to carbon footprint and renewable energy usage, we uncover the environmental benefits of cloud computing, shedding light on its overall sustainability and the role it can play in building a greener future.

What is the green cloud? 

The term “green cloud” refers to the concept of using cloud computing technologies and practices in an environmentally sustainable manner. It encompasses the adoption of energy-efficient data centres, renewable energy sources, resource optimisation, and reduced carbon footprint associated with cloud IT services.

It emphasises the importance of utilising cloud computing resources in a way that aligns with ecological considerations, making the cloud an eco-friendly solution for data storage, computing and application deployment.

The environmental benefits of cloud computing 

The cloud has revolutionised the way in which businesses and individuals store and access data, but its impact goes beyond convenience and efficiency. Some of the most notable include:

  1. Reduced Energy Consumption: Cloud service centres are designed to handle massive workloads while minimising energy consumption. By consolidating computing resources and utilising advanced cooling and power management techniques, cloud providers can achieve better energy efficiency compared to traditional infrastructure. 
  2. Resource Optimisation: The cloud enables resource optimisation by dynamically allocating computing resources based on demand. When hardware sits idle, it creates poor efficiency, negatively affecting the environment. However, public cloud servers are 2 to 4 times more efficient than traditional data centres due to highly utilised infrastructure.
  3. Data Center Efficiency: Cloud providers are constantly investing in improving the efficiency of their data centres. This includes utilising more efficient servers, optimising cooling systems and implementing advanced power management techniques. By constantly improving data centre efficiency, cloud providers can reduce the overall environmental impact of their operations.
  4. Renewable Energy Adoption: Many cloud providers are actively transitioning to renewable energy sources to power their data centres. By investing in wind, solar and other renewable energy projects, they are reducing their reliance on fossil fuels and contributing to a cleaner energy mix. This shift towards renewable energy helps to mitigate carbon emissions and supports the transition to a sustainable energy future.
  5. Reduced Hardware Waste: With traditional IT infrastructure, hardware upgrades and replacements are common, resulting in a significant amount of electronic waste. In the cloud, hardware management and maintenance are handled by the service provider, reducing the need for individual organisations to constantly update their infrastructure. 

The future of the green cloud 

The green cloud has never been more important to protecting our planet for future generations. 

At present, research has shown that data centres are estimated to be responsible for up to 3% of global electricity consumption today and are projected to reach 4% by 2030. In addition, the average facility consumes 20-50MW annually, enough to power 37,000 homes.

However, the largest providers – Microsoft, Amazon and Google – have all pledged to decarbonise their data centres and are eager to promote the news that their data centres are driven by sustainable energy.  

According to Urs Hölzle’s blog post, the head of engineering for Google Cloud, Google’s data centre is twice as energy efficient as a typical enterprise data centre, delivering up to six times as much computing power for the same electrical power as over five years ago. 

In fact, Google’s data centres use 10% less energy and emit 10% less carbon dioxide now, which made possible Google’s energy-related carbon footprint reduction of 300,000 tons of carbon emissions back in 2021.

On the other hand, for users alone, they are now consuming 77% fewer servers and 84% less power, consequently reducing their carbon emissions by 88% by using the cloud, according to research conducted by Mission Cloud Services.

It cannot be denied that the green cloud is revolutionising the IT industry. And for Cheeky Munkey, it’s essential we work with companies with the shared goal of improving sustainability through their digital infrastructure. Contact our team of IT specialists today to find out more about how you can make your business run more seamlessly and ultimately become more sustainable. 

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