Sustainability and Cloud Computing

Sustainability and Cloud Computing

Usheninte Dangana's photo
Usheninte Dangana
·Feb 27, 2022·

4 min read

Cloud computing is a collection of digital services that remove the need for organizations to maintain the on-premises infrastructure necessary for value delivery. It is important to note that Cloud computing is composed of real-time services used over the worldwide web that extend the existing capabilities of information technology solutions (Knorr & Gruman, 2008). Kumar (2021) goes forward to state that sustainable cloud technologies enable companies to improve their commitments to reducing carbon emissions while yet still fostering innovation. Historically, innovation and environmental sustainability have not been known to work in unison. It is important to understand that industrial development should neither disrupt ecological balance nor trigger unchangeable negative environmental consequences as this leads to environmental disputes and concerns (Dogaru, 2020, pg. 399).

According to Müller et al. (2011, pg. 129), Cloud Computing is a technology of high potential which has attained high popularity due to a number of factors, namely but not exclusively: cost-efficiency, flexibility, and universal access to computing capacity for all entities. In our daily lives, we interact with complex systems - most times unknowingly so - packaged in mediums and forms that disguise their underlying complexity. For one, most professional tools and technologies utilized by the career or entrepreneurial inclined can be classified as Software-as-a-Service. This category of cloud provisions essentially provided access to preconfigured programs managed through a graphical user interface that provide non-technical utilization of technology platforms; often by so doing, unlocking visible value in life and business. Beardmore (2020) asserts that “the environmental footprint of the online world is constantly expanding as its energy consumption rises to meet demand”. She goes on to state that this demand will only increase over time; including that the disposal of electronic waste created as a byproduct of cloud computing could terribly impact the environment if not properly managed.

In a study on “The Energy Efficiency Potential of Cloud-based Software” by Masanet et al. (2013), it was found that transitioning the most frequently used software applications towards a cloud-first approach would effectively reduce energy utilization by over 85%. Hölzle (2020) explains that by directly controlling data center cooling, Google’s AI-powered recommendation system already delivers consistent energy savings at an average of 30%. Relaying too that the company’s global fleet of data centers in 2019 hit a new record low of 1.10 with regard to the average annual power usage effectiveness. He highlights that when compared with an industry average of 1.67, this means that in Google data centers, every unit of IT equipment energy uses about six times less overhead energy than is standard.

What this expresses is the capacity for industry players to take an intentional approach in the management of environmental sustainability even as cloud computing is increasingly embraced. It should be noted that as sustainability is a discipline interconnected with other principles of economic and environmental viability as well, the connection between technological innovation and its adherence should remain in mind. As humanity grows, it would be ideal to do so wholesomely.


Background Photo by Thomas Richter on Unsplash

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