Making the Cloud Landscape Sustainable through Accountability and Transparency

Cloud Computing

Sustainability: More Than Just a Buzzword, a Long-Term Vision

Sustainable technologies are a vital component of business success. If effectively integrated into a company’s business model, sustainability can substantially increase a business’s overall efficiency. It should come as no surprise, then, that the move towards sustainable technologies is a top 10 initiative for CEOs, CIOs, and other business executives. More than merely a trend, sustainability is radically transforming tech within the business world. According to Gartner, “By 2025, 50% of CIOs will have performance metrics tied to the sustainability of the IT organisation.”

Investing in sustainable technology within the workplace can benefit companies in a big way. For example, two major players in the business world, Japanese transport company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, are seeing their investment in sustainable technology pay off in spades. The first uses AI-powered models to improve maritime shopping efficiencies and the latter uses tech advancements to create a virtual water supply in order to create smart building management solutions that use 50 percent less water in the water supply system. This is a win-win for these businesses and for the health of the environment.

Unfortunately, cloud storage centres and AI technology require tremendous amounts of energy to function. According to Greenpeace, “By 2025, the technology sector could consume 20 percent of the world’s total electricity.”

The Top Challenges Thwarting Complete Sustainable Adoption: Why the Cloud Isn’t a Sustainable End-All-Be-All

While many large cloud computing companies are making tremendous strides toward switching to renewable energy infrastructures such as wind and solar, smaller, independent data centres simply do not have the resources needed to embrace these sustainability initiatives. Limited by outmoded buildings and outdated computing equipment, many companies and organisations have opted to transfer their data to hyperscale or cloud colocation facilities in an effort to reduce their energy costs.

On the surface, transferring data to facilities equipped to handle it seems to be a sustainability solution, but it is not; rather, it is the equivalent of simply moving a problem from one place to another because the cloud presently has a greater carbon footprint than the airline industry. Shockingly, their energy usage and emissions are largely unregulated. Despite many governments instituting their own emission targets, specific and universal rules regarding the use of data centres are virtually non-existent. At some point, cloud sustainability most likely will have a mandatory compliance requirement, but this has not yet happened.

The Harmonious Blend: How Sustainability Amplifies the Cloud’s Potential

While much improvement is needed in terms of making cloud storage sustainable, all is not doom and gloom; some emerging solutions are nudging data storage centres towards sustainability largely through more efficient cloud technology and also through green cloud computing. What is green cloud computing? According to author Clàudio Rodrigues, “Green cloud computing is simply an approach where companies can use what they already have smartly to minimise energy consumption and overall carbon footprint.”

Though they do require an inordinate amount of energy to operate, cloud storage centres are necessary for many businesses. Safeguarding against data loss, especially in the event of a natural disaster, cloud computing centres can protect companies’ data. Cloud computing also enables workers to do remote work, reducing the need to commute, which decreases emissions. Cloud storage, then, is a viable option for many businesses for it can mean significant savings for them.

Key Insights for SMBs: Navigating the Sustainable Cloud Landscape

The key to making sure that cloud tech is moving towards sustainability is to hold the cloud storage facilities responsible. In other words, customers need to make sure that the cloud storage facility they use is transparent and meets high environmental standards. According to, if customers “demand greater transparency and improved global standards, we can have it all.”

Leading cloud service providers are aggressively investing in a sustainable cloud with the goal of reaching zero emissions within a decade or sooner. This is a laudable goal, but it will take a concerted effort from cloud service providers and SMB leaders to achieve this goal. The effort is worth it, for taking these steps will likely result in an abundance of rewards such as improved brand image and reduced costs, both of which help businesses stay competitive.

Want to find out more?

Contact us