How cloud computing can help to save the planet

A big theme for this week is efficiency – how cloud adoption can save organisations money, improve processes and be more agile. However, the point of this blog is to discuss the sometimes-overlooked benefit of cloud adoption which is that it can be better for the planet.

Properly planned and project managed, moving into the cloud means business processes have the potential to become more streamlined and efficient. Cloud migration can be challenging, but with quality control and an understanding of what the limitations are, cloud can be transformational.

Increased productivity is likely be a major driver for introducing cloud (i.e. reduced costs, energy savings and increased flexibility), but the potential sustainability benefit should feature too in decision making. This isn’t some nice-to-have either - there is real evidence that customers care.

One member has seen a 20% rise in sustainability requirements in tenders and sustainable procurement has grown hugely as a concept in recent years. Furthermore employees and shareholders are becoming more mindful of the environmental impact of their employers and investments. More companies are being asked to disclose their greenhouse gas and environmental impacts. Going into the cloud could be a relatively ‘quick win’ for cutting down emissions related to operations and there are numerous ways cloud operations can enable this:

  • Consolidation - Having thousands of business server rooms with their own power requirements consolidated into one dedicated data centre means there are serious efficiencies on offer as computing at scale uses energy and resources more efficiently.
  • Renewable energy - The cost per kWh of renewable energy is falling and as data centres are large buyers of energy they have better negotiation leverage so can access renewable sources much more economically.
  • Energy efficient IT - Software running via browsers in the cloud uses less internal processing power for laptops which means the battery lasts longer. Also new servers are always more efficient than old ones and data centres will invest in these new machines quicker than individual companies.
  • Flexible working - Being able to access your work from anywhere means there is less need for travel and enables more home-working. This reduces business travel and improves employee well-being.

So how much carbon can be saved from cloud adoption?

In a recent report the All Parliamentary Group on Climate Change says that ICT can reduce emissions by 15.3%. Capgemini have estimated that at an individual system level, the carbon saving from moving to the cloud can be as high as 50-70%. Other studies have given smaller estimates. Microsoft have studies showing one customer emitted 93% less carbon from moving to their Azure platform and another saving 70%.

However compelling case studies demonstrate cloud adoption should be considered as part of every company’s low-carbon business strategy.

To see how cloud adoption can save you emissions, check out the Global e-Sustainability Initiative Cloud Impact Tool here.


techUK is running a week focusing on low-carbon and sustainability issues on 15-20 October. For full information or to submit a guest blog, please click here.





To read more from techUK's Cloud Week, visit our landing page

  • Sue Daley

    Sue Daley

    Associate Director, Technology & Innovation
    T 020 7331 2055
  • Katherine Mayes

    Katherine Mayes

    Programme Manager | Cloud, Data, Analytics and AI
    T 020 7331 2019

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