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The cloud is greener on the other side: How to be more sustainable in your IT practices

Gartner predicts that a quarter of CIOs will see their personal compensation linked to sustainable technology impact by 2027. As concern rises regarding the energy use and environmental impact of technology, it’s increasingly critical for organisations to ensure IT becomes more efficient, circular, and sustainable. Cloud plays an ever more central role in IT strategy, and which public clouds you choose to work with and how you continue to run and manage your private cloud has a big say in your green credentials. 

Green cloud computing refers to environmentally friendly practices for designing, building and operating cloud infrastructure, platforms, and applications – whether that’s accessed through the public cloud, or exists in a private cloud powered by your own technology. With environmental awareness growing, IT is perfectly positioned to drive significant sustainability improvements that benefit both the planet and business efficiency. Forward-looking businesses are prioritising green tech transformation as both corporate responsibility and a competitive advantage. 

Energy Efficiency 

Cloud providers are optimising their data centres for energy efficiency through innovations in cooling, power management, and server design. For example, immersion cooling techniques eliminate fans and reduce power usage, while artificial intelligence manages workload distribution among servers to minimise energy consumption. 

Optimising efficiency in data centres and network infrastructure is also a prime focus area. Consolidating underutilised servers, virtualising resources, and using sleep/hibernation settings reduces power usage. Similarly, transitioning to energy efficient hardware like flash storage and GPUs also optimises consumption. 

Renewable Energy  

Major cloud providers are increasingly powering their operations using solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. On-site solar energy generation and procurement of renewable energy credits help decarbonise IT, and Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have all pledged to fully or partially power data centres through renewable energy. Consumers can also put their money where their green credentials lie by preferencing cloud regions and zones powered sustainably, as well as transitioning to renewable energy sources for their own facilities and data centres.  

‘Green’ Cloud Adoption 

Migrating workloads to cloud platforms optimised by providers for renewable energy and efficient hardware/cooling lowers IT’s carbon footprint. Simultaneously, right-sizing resources and leveraging autoscaling optimises cloud usage. 

Clouds dynamically allocate resources based on demand, reducing overprovisioning. Features like autoscaling, load balancing, and shutdown of idle resources optimise utilisation further, while containers and serverless computing provides even more fine-grained consumption possibilities. 

When evaluating providers, businesses can choose products and cloud services committed to 100% renewable energy, carbon neutrality, and transparency around sustainability practices. 

Carbon Offsets 

Cloud providers such as Google, SAP, IBM, and Microsoft use carbon offsets to mitigate emissions. By funding renewable energy, reforestation, and carbon capture projects, they counterbalance carbon output of their data centres. 

Sustainable Hardware 

When it comes to your own data centre, practices such as reusing server components, picking hardware products manufactured from more eco-friendly or reclaimed materials, and extending refresh cycles for devices where possible will go a long way to reducing waste. 

Refurbishing and reusing older equipment saves carbon embedded in manufacturing, while disposing responsibly at end-of-life minimises waste impacts. 

Proper disposal, resale and recycling of retired tech assets also reduces environmental harm. Some tools help securely wipe data from devices for reselling/donating, as disassembly for materials reclamation is preferable to landfill. 

Culture and Policy – Green Metrics 

Fostering a culture of sustainability is achieved through awareness. Define green IT policies on device usage, travel, vendor selection, and waste disposal. And promote grassroots green initiatives and ideas to involve as many individuals as possible.  

Quantifying impact informs reduction strategies and helps set goals. Develop metrics and reporting to track energy usage, carbon emissions, e-waste, and sustainability KPIs.  

Shared Responsibility 

Going green is a shared responsibility. With cloud’s exponential growth projected to continue, efforts on the part of both providers and consumers to reduce its environmental impact through innovation in technology and sustainability practices will be critical. The future will be bright for both the cloud and the planet.  

While providers focus on data centre and hardware efficiency, consumers should optimise cloud use by right-sizing workloads, using autoscaling, shutting down unused instances, and selecting geo-proximate infrastructure. 

For information and support on improving your IT sustainability or adopting green cloud, get in touch with the team at IT Corporation today.