In 2019, the worldwide Cloud services market grew by 17.3% and crossed the $200 billion mark, up from $175.8 billion in 2018. A majority of businesses are migrating to cloud platforms due to pay-as-you-go pricing models; the capability to scale up and down as per user’s need, and recent development of managing on-premise infrastructure.
Cloud technologies are becoming a necessity for businesses that want to adopt business intelligence technologies and other tech-extensive services. Buying equipment and software deployed on-premise is a significant and risky commitment for companies or organizations with dynamic needs and requirements.
With the progression and advancement of technology, there is a continuous and urgent need for building new data centers. Although the technology adoption is great; figuring out how to make it less intrusive for the community is still a challenge.
In the US alone, data centers are expected to consume 73 billion kWh of power in 2020.
The Impact of Data Centers on Environment
We all know that data centers are important and fundamental to our technological needs. However, their impact on the global environment may be their downside. A New York Times article highlights that one data center can consume more power than a medium-sized town. Moreover, the mere thought of the harm that data centers could inflict on the ecosystem is overwhelming for most people.
In essence, data centers are stacked computers that operate round the clock, and as a result, generate a lot of heat. It makes cooling systems vital for setting up data centers. The processes involved in cooling these large centers use a lot of energy; which generally comes from burning fossil fuels, and it increases carbon emissions.
A LinkedIn article points out that data centers are responsible for 17 percent of the overall carbon footprint caused by technology. About 30 billion watts of electricity is required to power these centers. Besides, these servers waste 90 percent of the energy as they operate 24/7 on their maximum capacity.
How Cloud Computing Tackles Energy Inefficiencies
Cloud technology seeks to address two essential components of green IT — energy efficiency and resource efficiency. Cloud computing is a relatively greener resource with the following factors to consider:
Virtualization is the fundamental technology supporting cloud services. It allows multiple copies of the OS to run concurrently on a single physical server. Cloud computing reduces the physical server footprint through this optimization, thereby adding to green benefits. From the perspective of resource efficiency, Cloud technologies require lesser equipment to operate workloads. Hence they proactively reduce the need for data centers and minimize the e-waste footprint. Since fewer pieces of equipment need to be powered, energy consumption comes down.
Software Automation Drives Efficiencies
The mere presence of Virtualization isn’t enough to make Cloud computing an environmentally friendly solution. Cloud-based infrastructure relies on automation solutions to swiftly scale, provide, and move workloads. Automation allows IT professionals to make maximum use of their cloud environment as they push the limits of utilization ratios and consolidation by following the organizational and architectural standards. Higher ratios mean lower demand for physical infrastructure; thus contributing to cut back on the need for power, fuel, and services.
Pay-per-use encourages rational utilization
The pay-as-you-go price model of Cloud services allows consumers to use just what they need, and nothing more. Combine this with self-service and optimized management, and users can monitor how much energy they need, as well as adjust consumption on the go. The principle of pay-per-use allures organizations because it is a way of lowering expenses while being environmentally friendly with wise and judicious utilization of resources.
Multi-tenancy assists in using traditional cloud infrastructure
Multi-tenancy allows different companies to access resources on a shared cloud network over a public cloud, or business units within a private cloud. This combined with the market trends across companies and business divisions, leads to efficient utilization of resources. The ratios between peak and average loads will further decrease as automation enters the picture, reducing the need for additional infrastructure and resources.
The synchronization features enable business users to synchronize data from different software applications based on the Cloud. Again, this can be monitored in one central hub with the help of automation, and synchronized simultaneously across web apps. It eliminates the need to be online while the function is under process.
Many cloud computing companies have moved to renewable energy sources for running their servers. These companies are now using hydro, wind, or solar power to fulfill their energy needs. Cloud hosting companies are also leveraging renewable energy technologies in the UK and several other countries in Europe.
Hence, shifting workloads to cloud resources or building new ones in a cloud native-ecosystem can be the best way for organizations to go green and attain sustainability. However, some might argue that the energy consumed by cloud infrastructure is also very high. Regardless, the bottom line is that Cloud is considered to be more energy and carbon-efficient as compared to running the data center in-house.
Data centers are the brains and brawn of the planet’s digital services; however, their construction alone costs a massive $20 billion per annum on a global scale. To put this into perspective — Google reports that a regular search on its engine takes as much energy as lighting a 60-watt bulb for 17 seconds. This is equivalent to each Google search emitting 0.2 grams of CO2. It might not sound hazardous until you multiply this figure to the trillions of searches made on Google every month. Thus, Cloud emerges as a strong driver of green initiatives in the tech space in various aspects, be it expense, energy, or capital.
With more and more companies and consumers seeking energy conservation, Cloud is a way to go green.