How Cloud Computing is Green Technology

It’s more effective, promoters say

Key points to remember

  • Cloud computing can be a green technology, experts say.
  • Google has developed a metric that shows how clean the company’s cloud regions are around the world.
  • The research giant said it only wants to use carbon-free energy by 2030.

zf L / Getty Images

According to experts, you may be helping to save the planet by using cloud computing.

Google has developed a metric that shows how clean the company’s cloud regions are around the world. Moving to cloud computing could slow the growing problem of computer pollution.

“Reducing energy consumption and emissions means we’re essentially doing more with less,” said David Linthicum, director of cloud strategy at Deloitte Consulting, in an email interview.

Linthicum added that cloud computing is more efficient than using on-premises computers. “Aggregated compute and storage resources are driving companies to move from discrete corporate data centers to better utilized and shared resources in public clouds,” he said.

Measure clean energy

Google calls its new metric the Carbon-Free Energy Percentage (CFE%). The number shows the average mix of carbon-free energy and fossil fuels used to power Google’s data centers.

The company calculates the CFE% for each region based on the amount of carbon-free energy produced on the local grid at a specific time. And the company’s numbers show the cloud is cleaner.

The search giant has said it wants to use only carbon-free energy by 2030. Most of the biggest cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Oracle, have pledged to make their carbon-neutral cloud data centers in the coming years. .

“Completely decarbonizing our data center electricity supply is the critical next step in realizing a zero-carbon future,” Google said in a blog post.

Screenshot of the Google Carbon Free Technology graph for Google Cloud Platform.

“To achieve this goal, each cloud region of Google will be powered by a mix of increasingly low-carbon energy and less and less fossil energy. We measure our progress on this path with our percentage of carbon-free energy. »

Using cloud computing could help the environment, Linthicum said. “You can think of it as how we consume power from the grid,” he added.

“Although it is more economical and less polluting to buy electricity from a centralized power station, rather than producing it ourselves, we can take advantage of smart technology in our homes to further optimize what we do with the electricity we consume.”

How to make cloud computing cleaner

Cloud computing needs to be done the right way to be environmentally friendly, Roger Andersson, chief executive of cloud computing firm Pensando, said in an email interview.

“It’s not inherently green, but it can be a green approach to IT if done correctly by constructing energy-efficient buildings for cloud data centers powered by sustainable energy sources, namely l wind and solar,” Andersson said.

Andersson said it’s much more sustainable for companies to use a cloud service provider for their computing needs instead of building their own data centers.

“It would be more energy-consuming for a company to transport components and run a data center itself (which might also be dependent on fossil fuels) instead of doing it through a more efficient cloud service provider,” a- he added.

Some cloud technologies are more efficient than others. Cloud platform developer KloudGin says its business users can only consume resources when they need them.

“We load balance or ‘turn off’ resources when they are not in use,” KloudGin co-founder and CEO Vikram Takru said in an email interview/

Someone using a smartphone on a starry night, with phone, cloud and map icons in the sky above.

Aerial Perspective Images / Getty Images

“Our apps are also eliminating paper as we digitize workflows. Reducing or eliminating paper reduces waste and optimizes efficiency in mobile field service, asset management, workers and customer service.

But there’s a downside to the pay-for-data model you use, Asim Razzaq, CEO of Yotascale, a cloud cost management company, said in an email interview.

“Because not everyone has the ability to accurately predict their usage, cloud computing capacity is quite often overprovisioned and left unused, adding to the carbon footprint calculation,” Razzaq said.

“Between 25% and 40% of cloud computing is underutilized, largely to ensure availability and customer experience are not compromised.”

Cloud providers can also reduce their power consumption by using special components for networking and security services.

“Offloading services that typically run on general-purpose processors doesn’t just reduce power requirements,” Andersson said. “This frees up expensive CPU cycles, which means cloud providers can run more workloads with fewer servers and associated resources.”


More information about How Cloud Computing is Green Technology

It’s more efficient, proponents claims

Key Takeaways
Cloud computing can be green technology, experts say. 
Google has developed a metric that shows how clean the company’s cloud regions are around the world.
The search giant has said that it wants to only use carbon-free energy by 2030.

zf L / Getty Images
You might be helping to save the planet by using cloud computing, experts say.

Google has developed a metric that shows how clean the company’s cloud regions are around the world. Shifting to cloud computing could slow the growing problem of computing pollution. 

“Reduced power consumption and emissions means we’re basically doing more with less,” David Linthicum, the chief cloud strategy officer of Deloitte Consulting, said in an email interview. 

Linthicum added that cloud computing is more efficient than using computers on site. “Aggregated computing and storage resources are motivating enterprises to move from discrete corporate data centers to better utilized and shared resources in public clouds,” he said. 

Measuring Clean Energy

Google calls its new metric the Carbon-Free Energy percentage (CFE%). The number shows the average mix of carbon-free and fossil-fuel energy used to power Google’s data centers.

The company calculates CFE% for every region based on how much carbon-free energy was produced on the local grid at a specific time. And the company’s numbers show the cloud is cleaner. 

The search giant has said that it wants to only use carbon-free energy by 2030. Most of the largest cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle, have pledged to make their cloud data centers carbon neutral in the coming years. 

“Completely decarbonizing our data center electricity supply is the critical next step in realizing a carbon-free future,” Google said in a blog posting.

“On the way to achieving this goal, each Google cloud region will be supplied by a mix of more and more carbon-free energy and less and less fossil-based energy. We measure our progress along this path with our carbon-free energy percentage.” 

Using cloud computing could help the environment, Linthicum said. “You can think of it as the way we consume power from the grid,” he added.

“While it’s more economical and less polluting to purchase power from a centralized power plant, versus generating it ourselves, we can leverage smart technology in our homes to further optimize what we do with the power that we consume.”

How to Make Cloud Computing Cleaner

Cloud computing has to be done the right way to be eco-friendly, argued Roger Andersson, a senior director at the cloud computing company Pensando, in an email interview. 

“It’s not inherently green, but it can be a green approach to computing if done properly by building energy-efficient buildings for cloud data centers that are powered by sustainable energy sources, i.e. wind and solar,” Andersson said. 

Andersson said it’s much more sustainable for companies to use a cloud service provider for their computing needs instead of building their own data centers.

“It would use more energy for a company to transport components and run a data center on their own (that might also rely on fossil fuels) instead of doing it via a more efficient cloud service provider,” he added. 

Some cloud technology is more efficient than others. Cloud platform developer KloudGin claims its business users can consume resources only when they need them. 

“We load-balance, or ‘turn off,’ resources when not in use,” Vikram Takru, co-founder and CEO of KloudGin, said in an email interview/

AerialPerspective Images / Getty Images
“Our applications also eliminate paper as we digitize the workflows. The reduction or elimination of paper reduces waste, and optimizes mobile field service, asset management, worker, and customer service efficiency.”

But there is a downside to the model of paying for the data you use, said Asim Razzaq, CEO of Yotascale, a cloud cost management company, in an email interview. 

“Because not everyone has the ability to accurately predict their usage, cloud compute capacity is quite often overprovisioned and goes unused, adding to compute carbon footprint,” Razzaq said.

“Between 25% and 40% of cloud compute is underutilized, in large part to ensure uptime and customer experience is not compromised.”

Cloud providers also can reduce their power consumption by using special components for networking and security services.

“Offloading services that are typically run on general-purpose CPUs not only reduces power requirements,” Andersson said. “It frees up expensive CPU cycles meaning cloud providers can run more workloads with less servers and associated resources.”

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