For enterprises across the board, sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have, but a strategic priority. A combination of factors is driving this change—rising consciousness around climate change, emerging regulations and push from multiple stakeholders for consistent optimization of resources are the prominent ones.
As a result, an increasing number of businesses are striving to find greener ways of doing business. Besides driving environmental and social change, sustainability makes for a strong business case. Climate change is estimated to cost companies $1.6 trillion per year by 2025. With the surging demand for sustainable products and services, enterprises that adopt eco-friendly business practices can cut costs, build competitive advantage and significantly improve long-term prospects.
It’s clearly a win-win. But how far have we reached in achieving success with sustainability agendas?
Typically, we can see significant differences in the way organizations approach sustainability goals and the value they realize from it. The ones that are really creating value can dive deeper and integrate their sustainability agenda with the very core of their business.
Technology adoption is a key differentiator here and provides the foundation for developing and implementing organization-wide sustainable measures. There is an increasing need for building sustainable business models driven by the demand to cut costs, reduce consumption and bring products to market quickly. At the heart of this transformation lies the ability to use advanced technologies to enable seamless workplace productivity, better decision making and quick corrective actions. Many use cases come to the fore of how industries are adopting new-age technologies to build a sustainable future.
The manufacturing industry is exploring energy-efficient alternatives such as hybrid equipment and fully electrified operations for process efficiency and cost reduction. Similarly, the fashion industry is turning to predictive analytics for demand forecasting to avoid wastages. We can witness similar trends shaping up across industries as well.
The Role of Hybrid Cloud
When talking about sustainable technologies, hybrid cloud is likely to feature at the top of the list. With the rapid pace of digitalization across industries, computing needs have gone off the roof, resulting in massive carbon emissions. There is an immediate need to curb this trend and decarbonize computing.
This is where the concept of sustainable cloud comes into the picture. Also referred to as green cloud, sustainable cloud technologies involve the design, manufacture, usage and disposal of computing resources or assets in an environment-friendly way.
According to IDC, the current green cloud datacenters may save up to 629 million metric tons of GHG emissions by 2025, if companies migrate to various cloud models.
Cloud’s advantage in optimizing resource utilization lies in its multi-tenancy model in public cloud and pay-as-you (utility) go models in the private cloud space.
Using a hybrid cloud approach, enterprise users can allocate computing resources as per their changing needs by moving workloads between private infrastructure and public clouds. Organizations can choose to draw additional resources from public cloud to manage demand spikes or to meet routine workloads that they may not want to maintain in-house, while relying on private clouds for critical workloads. The allocation can also be made in a way that ensures cost optimization. Hence, hybrid cloud offers greater flexibility, better utilization of resources, and in turn efficiency—factors that are essential for sustainable IT.
Let’s look at a few real-life scenarios across industries. There is a plethora of examples where companies are reaping the rewards out of their investments in sustainable cloud. Take the case of Ecolab for instance. Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform helped the company to process water management data at a much faster pace, enabling its customers to conserve water and reduce total operating costs at the same time.
Azure FarmBeats is a precision farming system that helps farmers to practice data-driven agriculture, where they monitor different parameters such as nitrogen and oxygen levels, soil moisture, temperature, etc.
Google Cloud, in partnership with NGIS, enables organizations to gain deeper insights on raw material sourcing practices across supplier networks, and improve supplier performance and compliance to fight deforestation.
Rebase Energy uses IBM cloud to enable wind farms to identify opportunities to supply power, depending on the fluctuations in wind energy available in the atmosphere, hence minimizing imbalance costs.
The Future of Cloud Sustainability: Enabling Innovation
Cloud technologies can enable organizations to drive innovation as part of their efforts to embrace environmental-friendly changes. Enterprises across industries such as retail, aviation and construction are exploring Advanced AI and machine learning technologies to reduce overall energy consumption, and cloud computing provides the foundation to implement these futuristic technologies.
Cloud-powered innovations such as virtual meeting applications have transformed the post-covid workplace, ensuring seamless collaboration and business continuity.
The cloud services landscape is evolving fast, and there is a major push for green cloud initiatives. According to Gartner, carbon emissions would be one of the top three deciding factors in choosing cloud services by 2025. All major hyper scalers including AWS, Microsoft, Google and IBM are making significant investments in sustainable cloud operations.
These developments are likely to pave the way for new innovations, predominantly in the following areas:
Renewable Energy Data Centers
With the continued explosion of digital technologies, such as IoT and data analytics, the need for data center resources is surging high.
As data centers consume humongous amounts of electricity, which accounts to around 2 percent of the world’s total global consumption, there is an increased pressure on public cloud providers to find greener ways to run their data centers.
This explains the increasing interest around renewable energy data centers. Besides being environment-friendly, renewable energy is cost effective. Offloading processing to public cloud presents a smarter choice for organizations, as it allows them access to renewable resources at a scale that’s normally beyond their reach.
Use of Data
Data can be a game changer in the adoption of sustainable computing, enabling enterprises to gather useful insights on their digital footprint and carve out future strategies.
Microsoft’s sustainability calculator or AWS customer carbon footprint tool, or similar tools from other cloud service providers or OEMs offer enterprise customers useful insights into carbon emission associated with their digital footprint. These insights can help to quantify their carbon impact and also estimate the carbon savings of running their workloads on public cloud data centers.
Infrastructure Design and Location
The push for sustainability goes beyond just purchasing green energy; the innovations are extending to multiple facets, such as data center design and the ways in which energy is being sourced and made available to the end customer.
Companies are locating edge data centers close to solar and wind farms to utilize green energy directly and eliminate the need for transporting it through the grid.
Investments in cutting-edge data center designs, such as Microsoft’s under water data center that apparently improves average Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), are reinforcing how green infrastructures can significantly reduce the per-user footprint and consequently the environmental impact of business applications.
In summary, choosing a sustainable architecture utilizing a combination of Green DCs and hyperscalers presents a viable option for enterprises looking to contribute to carbon footprint reduction, while growing and staying relevant to the market.
HCLTech, with its robust partner ecosystem, enables clients to adopt energy-efficient hybrid or multi-cloud solutions that can help build a resilient, sustainable and future-ready enterprise.
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