There is a lot of heat right now around the market for technology that enables and drives successful cloud migration. A whole new generation of cloud-native compute, connectivity and security solutions is starting to make a real impact on an enterprise sector keen to be less reliant on legacy tech that is no longer up to modern cloud needs. Want to support multi-cloud with MPLS? Good luck with that. Fancy protecting a thousand remote and mobile workers with VPN? Go right ahead and try.
Now it turns out there may be reasons to get behind cloud migration that go beyond virtues like agility and simplicity. A new forecast from independent analyst firm IDC shows that the continued adoption of cloud computing could have the power to prevent the emission of more than one billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, from 2021 through 2024.
The forecast is based on IDC data on server distribution and the use of cloud and on-premises software, along with third-party information on data centre power usage, carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt-hour, and emission comparisons of cloud and non-cloud data centres.
A key factor in reducing the emissions associated with cloud computing is the greater efficiency of aggregated compute resources. Basically, larger-scale facilities can more efficiently manage power capacity, optimize cooling, leverage the most power-efficient servers, and increase server utilization rates.
IDC identifies variables from region to region and country to country. The greatest opportunity to eliminate emissions by migrating to cloud data centres comes in the regions with higher values of CO2 emitted per kilowatt-hour. The Asia Pacific region, which utilizes coal for much of its power generation, is expected to account for more than half the CO2 emissions savings over the next four years. Meanwhile EMEA will deliver about 10% of the savings, largely due to its use of power sources with lower CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour.
While shifting to cleaner sources of energy is very important to the lowering of emissions, reducing wasted energy use will also play a critical role. There is pressure on data centre operators to do this through optimizing the physical environment and reducing the amount of energy spent to cool the data centre environment. The goal of an efficient facility is to have more energy spent on running the IT equipment than cooling the environment where the equipment resides. Cloud, of course, has the potential to allow workloads to be shifted around the globe to enable greater use of renewable resources, such as wind and solar power.
There’s other action needed from data centre players to bring these goals about. Expected gains are at least partly dependent on deploying new technology to enable, for example, better automation. Cleverer use of software and AI means fewer moving parts and less power needed. IDC’s projection of emissions saved is based on the assumption that 60% of data centres will adopt more sustainable ‘smarter’ technology by 2024.
“The idea of ‘green IT’ has been around now for years, but the direct impact of hyperscale computing can have on CO2 emissions is getting increased notice from customers, regulators, and investors and it’s starting to factor into buying decisions,” said Cushing Anderson, program vice president at IDC. “For some, going ‘carbon neutral’ will be achieved using carbon offsets, but designing data centres from the ground up to be carbon neutral will be the real measure of contribution. And for advanced cloud providers, matching workloads with renewable energy availability will further accelerate their sustainability goals.”
Here’s some links to aid research into this area:
And here’s just a handful of the next gen vendors that NetReporter believes will drive a more automated, cloud-native and green future:
By Guy Matthews, Editor of NetReporter