Is the Cloud good for the environment?

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Is the Cloud good for the environment?

If you upgrade your phone every year or two, you’re not alone. If your company regularly renews tech contracts and gives you the latest laptop to take home – and if you’re lucky enough to drive an electric car – well, good for you! But there’s a catch.

And it’s huge.

Laptops, phones and electric cars need batteries. Extracting the lithium and other rare metals required to make those batteries is resource intensive. Sometimes dangerous. Lithium battery production in Chile uses 65% of the region’s water supply. Cobalt, a toxic and difficult to manage metal, can only be found in any meaningful quantity in one country.

But computers don’t just take resources to manufacture – they consume vast amounts of power over their lifetime. And when we’re finished with them, our old phones and laptops (and soon enough, electric cars) produce mountains of e-waste.

Basically, our obsession with the latest and greatest technology is not doing the environment any favours – and this is just at a personal level.

All of these problems are magnified to extremes in business.

Your workstation computer, running for 8 hours a day, might use something like 190 kWh of electricity per year. Across your whole company, in every territory, each workstation added up will make for a significant amount of energy consumed. And if your company buildings also house server rooms, running 24/7, with multiple redundancies and cooling systems? Well, let’s just say you’ll be very happy not to be paying the electric bills.

But if Cloud solutions run on data centres, which are responsible for at least 12% of UK electricity consumption, how can migrating to Cloud be better for the environment?

The answer comes in a long-term outlook.

Cloud green credentials: renewable energy

Amazon’s AWS has pledged to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025, with heavy investment in solar and wind. And, while efforts have stalled with the pandemic, this target is still in sight.

That’s significant because AWS is the world’s largest and most trusted Cloud platform. If the leader in Cloud solutions makes the leap to greener power production, then it becomes the benchmark that others must meet.

But even without renewables, Cloud computing inherently has an advantage: it’s simply more efficient. By sharing services and maximising resources in a dedicated purpose-built environment, Cloud data centres use less energy for lighting, cooling and power conditioning – making for real-world energy savings.

Moving shared apps and tasks into the Cloud could use up to 87% less energy than individually hosting and running apps locally. If all businesses around the world consolidated their computing into Cloud centres, efficiency would be completely maximised.

All of this offsets your business power usage and means that, by investing in Cloud, you’re also investing in renewable energy as a long-term solution. This has financial benefits, of course – but it’s also a question of sustainability. Without a long-term, sustainable outlook, there’s no more planet to do business with.

And it’s time to take that claim seriously.

Other environmental benefits of migrating to Cloud

  1. A drastic reduction in hardware turnover

One of the key environmental improvements Cloud can offer is in extending the working life of hardware. Cloud services, running with ultra-low latencies of ~1ms, require little more than a device with a good internet connection to run the latest software ( be that virtually, in a web browser or as a web app). Because the heavy lifting is done in the Cloud, the device becomes little more than a portal into the Cloud.

This means that even ageing (10 years old or more) hardware is just as productive as brand new hardware in Cloud-enabled work environments. 

The result? Fewer hardware purchases. Fewer materials mined, manufactured and shipped around the world. Smaller carbon footprints, chemical footprints and less pollution – and far, far less e-waste.

Of course, data centres are regularly upgraded to best-in-class hardware; but this happens on a far smaller scale than i every business in the world regularly renewing their hardware.

  1. A truly paperless office

The Cloud has facilitated a truly paperless office, in ways that email and local file storage never could. Paper will never be obsolete – but Google Drive, Dropbox and other Cloud storage platforms have made documents handling much more efficient, without having to fell a single tree.

Go green. Migrate to the Cloud – with an expert in your team

ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian Cloud migration contractors, to equip your business for a greener future. Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

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