Climate change: Reducing carbon footprints with cloud

March 18, 2021 3:15 AM

Public cloud migrations can reduce global CO2 emissions by 59 million tonne per year

Kishore DurgKishore Durg

By Kishore Durg

The steady path toward digital transformation is suddenly pushing organisations to accelerate efforts to decrease their carbon footprint and sustain operational efficiency across every aspect of their business. Today, technology plays a crucial role in helping global businesses shift to more responsible and sustainable practices, and CIOs are uniquely positioned to guide their organisations and make the right technology decisions that will accelerate this shift.

In fact, we are already seeing an increasing trend where businesses are keen to implement a holistic sustainable cloud strategy, in order to partake in and accelerate their sustainability agenda. According to a recent analysis by Accenture, public cloud migrations can reduce global CO2 emissions by 59 million tonne per year, which represents a 5.9% reduction in total IT emissions, if it is supported with appropriate sustainability approach. This translates to taking 22 million cars off the road, which can be highly beneficial in meeting climate change commitments for organisations, especially for those data intensive businesses.

Further, examples such as clean energy transitions enabled by cloud-based geographic analyses and material waste reductions from better data insights is clearly reinstating the importance of cloud migrations for organisations in unlocking new opportunities and achieving greater sustainability benefits. Beyond the significant environmental impact, the move to the cloud will provide them with greater workload flexibility, better server utilisation rates, and more energy-efficient infrastructure as compared to an on-premise model. In fact, our analysis shows that organisations are realising up to 40% total cost of ownership savings from public cloud.

The following three factors can help CIOs determine the sustainability and financial benefits their companies achieve from cloud migration:

The cloud provider selected: The first step begins with selecting a carbon-thoughtful provider. Cloud operators set different sustainability commitments, which determine how they plan, build, power, and retire their data centres.

The ambition level for cloud optimisation: There are three ambition levels in the journey toward a sustainable cloud – strategic migrations without major redesign, application of sustainable software engineering practices, and application optimisation for the “fabric of the cloud.” Our analysis shows initial cloud migrations alone can reduce carbon emissions by more than 84% compared with conventional infrastructure.

Enabling cloud-enabled sustainability innovations: Leading companies are pushing further when it comes to innovation; going beyond data centre carbon improvements. Cloud providers have unique scale and financial incentives and can work closely with stakeholders in adopting the circular economy when it comes to hardware. Our estimates show enterprise technology manufacturers can capture an additional 16% of operating profit by designing products for longevity, modularity, and circularity.

With the increasing focus on sustainability, it is imperative that CIOs act quickly and purposefully to help their organisation transform with green solutions like sustainable cloud and reduce environmental impact in the future.

The writer is senior managing director, lead – Cloud First Global Services, Accenture

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