What are the Environmental Effects of Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing involves storing data on internet-connected devices located in remote data centers, not on one’s own personal digital device. Cloud computing has revolutionized the digital world by taking most of the data storage from phones and computers and placing it in a central location. This has made digital devices more affordable, leading to greater demand for data centers and growing concerns about their environmental impact.

How Cloud Computing Works

When businesses first entered the digital age, it housed most of its operating power and data storage in its mainframe, with a network of terminals often used by individual employees, all working in the same building. In the 1980s, stand-alone personal computers with their own data storage systems were introduced. The rise of internet-based commerce in the 1990s has led to an ever-increasing demand for data storage as each company builds its own in-house data center.

Cloud computing has reduced the cost of doing business by reducing the need for each company to set up its own data center and has caused internet commerce to explode even further. Amazon introduced Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2002, followed by Google and Microsoft within a decade. Cloud computing companies have started hosting not only data but also software platforms like Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G Suite, and today, cloud computing is a multi-billion dollar industry. Among the top three data providers, AWS, the market leader, earned $13.5 billion for Amazon and about $3 billion for Google Cloud in 2020, although Microsoft has not disclosed its cloud computing earnings.

Data centers require enormous amounts of electricity around the clock to operate. In power grids powered by fossil fuels, especially coal, data centers make significant contributions to global warming. But data centers can also help fight climate change.

Environmental Pros and Cons

Compared to what they replaced, data centers actually reduced their carbon emissions. According to a study, an individual company’s energy consumption can be reduced by up to 95% by using cloud computing instead of running their own computers all the time, whether they are used or not. Research authors report that cloud computing can reduce carbon emissions by 30 to 90% for large business applications today. Sharing data in the cloud also has many business applications, such as making supply chains more efficient, reducing energy consumption and waste, thereby reducing their environmental impact.

However, increasing work efficiency does not mean reducing work efficiency. Instead, the increased use of data centers has led to increased use of data centers. In 2018, data centers accounted for roughly 1% of worldwide electricity use (about 200 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year) and about 0.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions (One terawatt hour equals 1 billion kilowatt-hours). ) In the United States the number is 70 TWh – more than a third of global consumption.

Overall, the information technology sector is responsible for about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, roughly the same as the aviation industry. Global electricity use by data centers is expected to grow to 3% to 13% of global electricity by 2030. If serious efforts are not made to transition to clean energy sources, greenhouse gas emissions from data centers will increase at the same rate.

What is Freight Migration?

Load migration involves shifting computer processing work between data centers to maximize energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources. To achieve these goals and keep servers cool, large data centers have begun to use high-efficiency cooling systems, placing them underwater or in places where renewable energy from wind or sun is available, such as a fjord above the Arctic circle. These projects are high-capital projects even if they are cost-beneficial in the long run. Getting smaller data center providers with more limited capital to do the same is still a challenge. Government support, such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Data Center Accelerator program, can help.

The primary task of data centers is to move electrons, renewable wind and solar energy are the cheapest sources of electrons in the world today. While other industries such as steel and concrete manufacturing struggle to decarbonize their applications, data centers have every incentive to do so. But as with many climate issues, the key question is the speed of change.

5 Reasons Why the Cloud Is Eco-Friendly

In today’s world, the need for green is stronger than ever. Eirikur Hrafnsson, founder of Green Qloud, stated in 2012 that the cloud computing internet is a major contributor to carbon emissions due to the use of dirty energy. While most data centers focus on renewable energy sources, Amazon, Google, and Facebook are just a few of the companies that have made great efforts to be eco-friendly and set ecological company goals.

With the latest developments in cloud computing, companies have gained the knowledge that they can gain flexibility and scalability and reduce costs at the same time by moving to the public cloud. But what companies fail to realize is that the cloud not only benefits the workplace, but the environment as well. Managing and processing data on a local server as the cloud’s environmental benefit greatly increases carbon emissions. With the cloud, not only are fewer servers used, but also run efficiently, reducing the carbon impact on a company’s data center. However, there are 5 reasons why the cloud is environmentally friendly, and these are as follows:

Better infrastructure

Public Cloud data centers are often located closer to the facilities that power them to avoid large losses in the process of transmitting electrical energy over long distances. Because traditional data centers often don’t have a choice for location, cloud computing data centers use fewer watts to provide redundant power and cooling to data centers thanks to their superior hardware setup. These data centers are designed and built at scale for efficient energy use to achieve optimum utilization and temperature.

Higher utilization rate

Traditionally, companies use their own private data centers and this means that their utilization rates are low due to equipment purchased and installed in anticipation of a spike in server usage. The cloud consolidates machine utilization, increasing efficiency by running servers at high utilization rates. When the equipment is idle, it creates low efficiency and has negative effects on the environment. However, public cloud servers tend to be 2 to 4 times more efficient than traditional data centers due to the highly used infrastructure.

Hardware refresh rate

Traditional data center hardware tends to be used for long periods prior to upgrade or replacement due to high costs and time spent upgrading servers. Since hardware in the public cloud tends to have much higher usage rates than traditional servers, it will likely have a shorter lifecycle, resulting in a faster refresh time. Also, regular upgrades of public cloud servers are more cost-effective as new technology provides better energy efficiency. The more energy efficient the hardware, the more money the public cloud provider saves, which in the long run uses much less energy.

Reduced electricity use

While traditional data hardware systems are high-maintenance requiring uninterruptible power supplies, cooling, and tons of electricity, moving core software programs to the cloud can be extremely electricity-efficient.

Reducing climate impact

The climate impact is greatly reduced by the improvement of energy efficiency clouds as a result of less carbon emissions. According to AWS, the average enterprise data center has a dirtier mix of power than the typical large-scale cloud provider. AWS uses 28% less carbon-intensive power mix with other cloud providers. This also affects climate control costs, as it is much more expensive to run machines at peak performance levels at perfect temperature levels. The cloud eliminates this expense due to the use of energy efficient equipment and less carbon emissions.

In short, the Cloud has revolutionized the IT industry in many ways, with customers using the cloud to consume 77% fewer servers, 84% less power, and reduce carbon emissions by 88%.


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