News

5 ways cloud computing could help save the planet

Author

Lindsay Harriss

Date

16 Nov, 2021

Category

Blog

With the threat of climate change very much on everyone’s minds, it is clear that the changes needed to improve the situation cannot be left solely to the world’s politicians to implement – we must all play a part in creating a greener future. Although this might sound challenging, it is crucial, and one way that companies may be able to contribute is by switching to cloud-based computing. So, here we look at some ways this innovative technology could help save the planet, and also provide additional benefits for your business.

The importance of living in a more sustainable way, to lessen our impact on the environment, is now widely known, further highlighted by the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). So, when a potentially greener technology solution comes along, in the shape of cloud computing, it deserves serious consideration. In fact, even the UK Government has recognised the considerable environmental benefits of the cloud, recently encouraging companies to use cloud-based applications to curb carbon emissions and fight climate change. Although this cutting-edge IT may not make your business completely carbon neutral, it is certainly a step in the right direction, so here are some great reasons why cloud technology provides a much greener choice than most.

1. Cuts greenhouse gas emissions
Firstly, cloud computing has the power to cut the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are pumped into the atmosphere significantly. Traditional, on-site data centres create a considerable amount of GHGs, as a result of the substantial amount of energy they use, for running and cooling the equipment. In addition, the manufacturing, transporting and packaging of all the individual technology required substantially adds to the emissions generated. However, if companies switch to cloud computing, these emissions could be considerably reduced, as by using shared data centre facilities, employed to power cloud-based applications, there is no longer a need for so much individual equipment to be used, cutting the emissions this creates.

These larger-scale, shared data centres can also be run far more efficiently than individual facilities, optimising cooling and maximising server utilisation rates, thus reducing the overall emission of GHGs. In fact, Equinix, which runs one of the three data centres used for Prodec Networks’ cloud services, operates its facilities so efficiently, that it has avoided emitting over 260,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) since 2011. Indeed, a recent forecast by market research company International Data Corporation (IDC) showed that the continued adoption of cloud computing could prevent the emission of more than one billion metric tons of CO2 from 2021 to 2024. This would therefore be no small contribution to a greener future.

2. Reduces the need to travel
In addition to directly cutting emissions of GHGs, cloud-based computing can also indirectly lower emissions, by providing online communication tools that reduce the need for users to travel as much. For example, by deploying a cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solution, which supplies a set of invaluable online tools, including voice, video and messaging facilities, businesses can enable their employees to work remotely with ease. This can empower teams to collaborate and communicate efficiently wherever they are based, thus reducing, or removing, the need for lengthy commutes, with the associated emissions this creates, depending on whether a company opts for its workforce to follow a fully remote or hybrid way of working.

Furthermore, such a cloud-based UCaaS solution also provides the videoconferencing tools required to conduct online meetings with participants worldwide, thus lessening the need for users to globetrot for every such interaction, so substantially reducing emissions from long-distant travel. Indeed, with transport reportedly being the highest emitting sector of GHGs, producing 27% of the UK’s total emissions in 2019, this is a great way to improve your business’s carbon footprint. Moreover, not only does this benefit the environment, but could also save your organisation serious money, as research shows that using such technology can help companies cut travel costs by 30%.

3. Helps shrink the e-waste mountain
However, the green benefits of switching to cloud computing certainly do not end there, as it can also help to reduce the escalating mountain of electrical waste, or ‘e-waste’. This is because it enables greater ‘dematerialisation’, which refers to the replacement of physical equipment with virtual equivalents. As the UK reportedly generated the second most waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) per capita in the world in 2019, this is a pressing environmental issue that urgently needs to be addressed. Indeed, the e-waste mountain is now said to be growing by as much as 53 million metric tons every year. However, by switching to cloud computing, companies can reduce the amount of individual, on-site hardware needed, as the service is delivered through shared servers, which inevitably cuts down on the amount of equipment being disposed of, when it eventually expires.

In addition, by switching to such technology, you could also save money as you will no longer need to invest in so much on-site hardware, pay for its maintenance, or replace it when required, but instead can just pay for the exact amount of service you need, potentially cutting costs. In fact, a recent report suggests that through such dematerialisation enterprises could become far more profitable and productive, as well as sustainable, by 2030.

4. Slashes energy consumption
Cloud computing could also help businesses go greener by slashing the overall amount of energy being used. As mentioned, traditional, on-site data centres require a great deal of energy to run and cool the equipment, while shared data centres, used for cloud services, can be run much more efficiently, consuming far less overall energy. A contributory factor to this may also be that many businesses might not be able to buy the most energy-saving equipment for their own individual data centres, which could be expensive, instead choosing cheaper, less-efficient alternatives, but cloud data centres can supply the same maximum-efficiency equipment to all companies. Indeed, a six-month study on this subject found that by moving commonly used software applications employed by 86 million US workers over to the cloud, energy usage could be cut by 87%, saving enough energy to power Los Angeles for a year!

In fact, Prodec delivers its cloud-based services using highly energy-efficient data centres, including an award-winning green facility, which uses five times less energy per kW of IT load than the average data centre. Needless to say, by switching to cloud-based computing, run from facilities off-site, the environment may not be the only one to benefit, as you could also make some savings by cutting your own energy bill, with no need to fund a data centre on-site.

5. Uses renewable energy sources
Finally, the cloud also has another major green benefit up its sleeve. Many cloud data centres are now being powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal, which are far more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel power, emitting few or no GHGs. Indeed, all the data centres employed to provide Prodec’s cloud services use renewable energy. The importance of moving to such sustainable energy sources is key, and was certainly a hot topic discussed at COP26, as coal power is the single biggest contributor to climate change. In fact, currently around 80% of global energy and 66% of electrical generation are supplied by fossil fuels, which contributes about 60% of the GHGs responsible for climate change.

So, if your business has not yet switched to a green energy source, moving to cloud computing, could significantly cut your carbon footprint in this way as well. Furthermore, with businesses accounting for over half of the UK’s energy consumption, at 56%, if all companies moved to cloud computing powered by renewable energy, the benefit to the environment could be huge!

If you would like to help create a greener future by switching to cloud computing, contact Prodec Networks today, to discuss your options.

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