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Cloud Computing: Driving Environmental Sustainability in the Digital Age

Sustainable technology, known as Green IT, is reshaping the way we approach technology in business and industry. It emphasizes developing and using technology without harming the environment. Cloud computing is a prime example of sustainable technology. It allows companies to store data on external servers which reduces costs and infrastructure needs. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with maintaining physical hardware, contributing positively to climate change mitigation efforts.

All of the information we access through the internet requires hardware for its storage, processing, and transmission. This hardware – computers, cell phones, cables, antennas, servers, batteries, routers, etc. – consumes energy daily, exhausts resources during its production, and is transported to different locations on the planet. The impact of cloud computing on the environment can be divided into energy consumption, hardware production, and hardware transportation.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), from 2010 to 2019, internet traffic multiplied 12 times and traffic in data centers multiplied 8 times, while the energy consumption of data centers remained stable. This is due to the constant increase in energy efficiency in these centers, measured with the PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) indicator. The use of renewable sources is another way to reduce CO2 emissions due to energy consumption. Even if the data center is not energy efficient, its carbon footprint can reach zero if it uses 100% renewable energy sources.

Large public cloud companies, called hyperscales, are aware of their advantages in the fight against climate change and use them to attract customers. For example, Amazon states that “when companies move to the AWS cloud from on-premises infrastructure, they typically reduce carbon emissions by 88%.” (Amazon, 2015)

Cloud Computing’s Contribution to Climate Change Mitigation:

– Reduction of CO2 Emissions: Moving to the cloud reduces the need for physical infrastructure and devices, leading to a significant decrease in carbon emissions by up to 84%. Reducing Co2 emissions helps combat climate change by lowering the environmental impact of IT operations.

– Less Hardware Usage: Storing data in the cloud means less physical hardware is needed, resulting in lower energy consumption and significant energy savings. This reduction in hardware usage translates to fewer resources extracted and fewer manufacturing-related emissions.

– Decreased Server Count: Virtualizing hardware in the cloud reduces the number of physical servers required, leading to further energy savings and improved efficiency for IT companies. Fewer servers mean less energy consumed for operation and cooling, contributing to overall energy efficiency.

– Cost Reduction: Cloud services offer substantial cost savings by eliminating the need for extensive hardware infrastructure and reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs. Lower costs incentivize companies to transition to cloud-based solutions, further driving sustainability efforts.

Cloud computing serves as a sustainable technology that significantly contributes to energy savings and environmental conservation efforts. Its scalability and efficiency enable companies to optimize resource usage and minimize energy consumption, making it a vital tool in addressing climate change. In conclusion, reducing our digital carbon footprint requires collaboration between the IT industry and its users. By embracing sustainable technologies like cloud computing and prioritizing environmental stewardship, we can work towards a greener future for the planet and future generations. Now is the time to act, as our planet and future generations deserve nothing less.




Image: https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/


The public sector cannot underestimate computing’s environmental impact

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