Tomorrow Investor

Is Cloud Computing Truly Sustainable?


Much has been made about how cloud computing has enabled many businesses to improve their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores over the past few years, as it is seen to involve less in the way of physical hardware, individual labor, and is less straining on a company’s resources. However, many computing experts have wondered whether the technology can truly fall under the category of green tech.

While many of today’s cloud-using entities say they’re green and that they’re shifting towards zero-emission operations, the fact that some cloud deployments are barely green, let alone sustainable, has brought developers, providers, and users into question. 

For one thing, individual cloud deployments are as different from each other as snowflakes, as each one is made up of a different set of operational technologies. Also, carbon footprints are determined by numerous factors, which, when taken in total, dictate how much power is required. 

So, to say that the cloud is a sustainable technology is essentially wandering into an undefined gray area. That said, several points need to be considered if cloud computing is really meant to be green and sustainable.

How efficient is the cloud’s architecture?

Experts say that a cloud’s architecture is the basis for being considered green. In many cases, however, poorly-designed cloud deployment running on a certified green public cloud can actually generate more carbon emissions than a fully-optimized architecture running in a more conventional data center.

In this case, optimizing one’s architecture is key in keeping clouds green rather than running badly designed architecture or faulty apps on carbon-neutral frameworks.

Where are users located?

In principle and practice, it’s always good when a cloud provider’s data center is linked to a renewable power source like a wind farm. 

But what about different aspects like services, applications, and data that don’t use that center? If not, then you would do well to think twice before touting your cloud as green.

Even with optimized architecture, if your data center is linked to a more traditional power source like coal- or gas-fired power plant, then you most certainly can’t call it green.

Finally: Is your application development power-optimized?

Many developers don’t bother to check how much energy is expended when applications are deployed – and that is a serious mistake that has serious cost implications in the long run.

Along with performance, security, and stability, power efficiency in the name of sustainability is another aspect that should be tested before deployment. In doing so, developers can determine which applications and data storage measures can be optimized to reduce their power consumption by half. This, in turn, significantly reduces one’s cloud usage bill and makes the rest of the endeavor more sustainable.

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