In this article, we'll explain what green cloud actually means and show you four steps that providers take to be more sustainable. In the end, we will show you how to move to the cloud sustainably, by making green factors an essential part of your migration strategy.
The term green cloud refers to a sustainable way of cloud computing: reducing energy demand and saving money, while keeping an eye on environmental issues. Moving traditional IT landscapes to the cloud per se can come with beneficial elements for the environment like e.g. reduced amount of physical servers and land coverage or increased average utilization of available computing units. But if Cloud Providers do it right, a measurable impact on a company’s CO2 footprint can be achieved.
“Green cloud" has become a buzzword, as more companies are now taking into account the CO2 emissions and the overall carbon footprint of their new cloud service providers' facilities when planning their cloud migration. Respectively, sustainability is becoming a main point of differentiation in the marketplace, both for global hyperscalers like AWS, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure and for European cloud companies like OVH.
Aligned with both the climate crisis and rising energy costs, cloud service providers are putting all their efforts in shifting their services to be more environmentally friendly. A big step towards sustainable cloud computing is efficiency improvement especially regarding physical data centers. These four target efforts are leading into a future of greener cloud services:
The operation of a data center requires loads of energy. While the majority of this energy is needed to power the servers, a big part also goes into cooling them to protect the equipment. If data center locations are picked strategically, their power demand can be substantially reduced: data centers that are located in cool regions (such as Finland or Sweden) or in underground facilities, need much less cooling compared to locations in e.g. desertic or subtropical regions like in the Southern US.
There are also innovative recycling concepts that use the waste heat produced in the cooling process to heat nearby homes and businesses.
The use of green energy, coming from sustainable sources, is a central part to sustainable cloud computing. Many Cloud service providers are following the global demand for more sustainability and adjust their energy sources:
The availability of green energy resources is of course linked to the strategic choice of location described above. The higher the usage rate of green energy, the lower the share of CO² intense energy forms such as coal or gas.
To reduce the overall need of energy in data centers, cloud providers strive to use optimized and modern hardware and software infrastructure. That does not limit to changing the old light bulbs to energy-saving lights!
Data centers employ energy-saving strategies such as dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) or shifting to modern data storage devices: SSDs (as compared to their legacy technology HDDs) need less power, access data faster and even last longer until replacement. Through the use of optimized hardware, data centers become more efficient and also minimize their energy demand.
To distribute the maximum load required of a data center, providers try to shift non-time critical workloads to different times slots to reduce the overall network traffic. That way, data centers avoid peak times. That’s what everybody does, if they have to take the car or bus to the city center: some appointments have fixed times and leave no choice. But if time is not an issue, people tend to avoid the rush hours’ traffic jams and overcrowded buses.
It sounds easy enough: “Make sure the Cloud Provider you choose is doing all they can to lower their data centers’ carbon footprint to the necessary minimum".
Well, how do you know? Cloud Providers don’t make it easy for prospective buyers or cloud consultants trying to meet their (clients’) carbon goals.
But there’s good news: we gathered all that information and use APIs to feed the up-to-date provider data into Txture’s Cloud Knowledge Engine.
To account for corporate sustainability goals that are now a key factor in many Cloud Transformations, we now offer a sustainability option in our Target Architecture Preferences. Users can define the importance CO² emission reduction has in their Migration Project and generate corresponding cloud service proposals.Define the importance of sustainability in your cloud strategy
For each proposal, Txture displays the amount of monthly emitted CO² in kg and therefore allows for a clear comparison of affiliated emissions.Txture calculates the carbon footprint of your cloud target architecture
Seeing is believing!
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Looking for a concise explanation of the green cloud concept? Have a look at our short video!