FEATURED ARTICLE |  December 7, 2021

Three Ways Cloud Computing Can Make Your Business More Sustainable

Written by: Marco Christian
Is cloud computing sustainable?

The COP26 climate change summit had just wrapped up and we are being warned of the impending climate disaster. Nations and big corporations are making bold statements to commit themselves to the goal of using renewable energy and protecting the environment. Climate activists are holding world leaders accountable and urging them to quickly implement strict measures to reduce global carbon emissions.

It is time for the rest of us to follow through with real action. As enterprises, what can we do to reduce our carbon footprint and make our business model more sustainable?

Well, there’s plenty of factors that contribute to your business’ carbon footprint, and there are plenty of changes you can make to reduce them. 

But if you want to reduce carbon emissions from your day-to-day business operations, one way to do that is through the digital transformation of your business. Particularly with the help of one technology — Cloud Computing.

In today’s day and age, you are most likely to be already familiar with the term. But what exactly is Cloud Computing? 

Cloud Computing refers to the storage of information in public data centers all around the world and the processing of this information through various web-based services. It is the backbone of what you may know as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) programs, which can be accessed through the web and usually has a subscription model. An example of SaaS programs are Adobe Creative Cloud, Salesforce, Google Suite, etc.

…Okay, but how exactly can Cloud Computing technology help us fight climate change? Take a look at these four ways that Cloud Computing can help make your business more sustainable.

1. The Public Cloud are much greener than Private Data Centers

A 2020 strategy report by global IT consulting firm Accenture claimed that companies migrating their data from private data centers to the public cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons per year, which is equivalent to taking 22 million cars off the road.

This is because privately owned and maintained data centers are not just costly for your business, they are also costly for the environment.

Data centers in general consume plenty of energy and resources. Data-processing equipment needs constant cooling to prevent overheating. Did you know that data centers worldwide consume more than 2% of the world’s electricity, and emit as much CO2 as the entire airline industry? Probably not. Many people nowadays try to cut down air travel as much as possible to reduce their carbon footprint, but little do they know that their digital routine — sending messages and streaming movies — can emit just as much CO2 as a trip on an airplane.

Not only that, the manufacturing of hardware requires the use of metal and other materials which need to be mined off the earth. This impact adds on when companies need to buy new hardware each time the server usage expands.

By migrating to a public cloud, the environmental impact of your business can be optimized and ensure that your digital operations are sustainable. This is because cloud services run by big tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are already committed to using renewable energy to power their data centers. In fact, Google and Microsoft have already achieved their target of using 100% renewable energy in powering all of their cloud regions. Although not there yet, Amazon Web Services aims to power its data centers with 100% renewable energy by 2025. Still, using AWS cloud services is 88% more energy efficient than using private data centers.

Just last month, Chinese cloud provider Alibaba Cloud revealed its use of renewable energy to power its data center in Zhangbei County. The company claims that the move eliminated over 26,000 tons of CO2, equivalent to the amount of CO2 absorbed by 1 million trees annually.

2. Say goodbye to using paper and stationery

Around 70% of waste generated by offices is paper. Paper production has a huge impact on the environment. Approximately 4 billion trees are cut down annually to make paper, and about 14% of deforestation is attributed to supplying our paper needs.

Cloud Computing technology today can help us reduce all of those numbers. By digitizing and storing our files and data on the cloud, use of paper and stationery will be unnecessary.

The increasingly widespread use of SaaS programs in business operations is already accomplishing this. Many people today are no longer printing out and filling in paper forms any longer, forms can be created with a SaaS application such as Google Forms and then shared to a group of people with just a click. Even legal contracts can be digitized and signed over the web with applications such as Digisigner.

Task management and note-taking can also be digitized through numerous SaaS programs. Forget bulletin boards, post-its, and planners to track your project progress — start using task management SaaS such as Trello, Asana, Jira, or Notion. An added benefit is convenience and the ability for your team to instantly check task progress with just a click. Learning to leverage these programs can really help cut down your business’ resource consumption and waste that would go on to the landfill.

3. It enables remote working, eliminating the need to commute

There will be no need for a commute to the office anymore if your business is completely digital on the cloud.

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues, more and more employees are acknowledging the flexibility and other benefits that remote working gives to structuring their work. Global consulting firm EY says that working remotely will most likely stay even after the pandemic subsides.

The reason why businesses around the world are able to shift to remote working so quickly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the use of Cloud Computing technology. The physical workplace can be emulated with workplace communication platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams. Collaborative working is also a breeze with SaaS platforms like Google Suite. 

The growth of remote work is good news for the environment. Not having to commute to the office means eliminating carbon emissions from round-trip car rides. This will remove congestion in cities and result in less air pollution. According to research by Trinity College Dublin, having employees work from home three days a week can potentially take away two tonnes of carbon emissions annually for every three participants.

Cloud Computing may be the unlikely hero we all need to help prevent climate change and keep the earth cool. The public cloud is far greener and energy efficient in comparison to private data centers. Using SaaS applications based on the cloud can also eliminate the need to use paper and reduce office waste. Finally, cloud computing applications allow the growth of remote work, thus eliminating office workers’ commute that contributes to air pollution.  By switching to the public cloud for the reasons mentioned above, we are not only making a real reduction in carbon emissions, but we are also pushing for cloud providers to continue innovating for a better environment.