How green is the cloud? And what are the benefits for small businesses?

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As businesses become increasingly aware of their environmental impact, many are turning to the cloud as a more eco-friendly alternative to on-premise servers.

But just how green is the cloud, and what are the benefits for small businesses? These are questions we are hearing more and more and, in this blog, we’ll explore them further. 

The environmental impact of on-premise servers

Servers need a lot of energy to run and maintain. They require large amounts of electricity to power the servers and cooling systems, and they generate a significant amount of heat, which must be cooled to prevent damage to the equipment.

How much does computing contribute to carbon emissions? 

Computing contributes significantly to carbon emissions. Every aspect of modern computing, from the smallest chip to the largest data centre, comes with a carbon price tag. 

According to a study by the Shift Project, digital technologies, including computing, account for about 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is equivalent to the carbon emissions of the entire aviation industry. In fact, the carbon footprint of computing is expected to triple by 2030, reaching 14% of the world’s total carbon emissions. 

The carbon footprint of computing is due to several factors, including the energy consumed by data centres, the manufacturing and disposal of electronic devices, and the energy consumed by the devices themselves. 

However, there are ways to reduce the carbon footprint of computing, such as using renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and extending the life of electronic devices.

Is the cloud eco-friendly? 

While cloud computing is generally considered to be more eco-friendly than traditional data centres, it still has a carbon footprint that contributes to climate change

The carbon footprint of the cloud is largely due to the energy required to power and cool the servers that make up the cloud infrastructure. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that cloud computing can reduce energy consumption by up to 87% compared to on-site data centres. 

However, the energy used by the cloud still comes largely from non-renewable sources, such as coal and natural gas, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions

That said, some cloud providers are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. For example, Google Cloud has committed to being carbon-neutral, and to sourcing 100% renewable energy by 2025. Microsoft Azure has also committed to being carbon-neutral by 2030

By choosing a cloud provider that prioritises sustainability, businesses can reduce their carbon footprint, improve their reputation with environmentally conscious customers, and contribute to a more sustainable future. 

The environmental benefits of the cloud

 Compared to on-premise servers, the cloud has several environmental benefits, such as: 

Energy efficiency: Cloud providers operate at a much larger scale than individual businesses, which allows them to optimise their energy usage and reduce energy consumption, waste and carbon emissions compared to traditional local computing capacity for individuals and firms. They can use advanced cooling systems, renewable energy sources, and other technologies to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Reduced hardware waste: When businesses have on-site servers and infrastructure, they need to replace and upgrade them regularly. This leads to a lot of electronic waste that can be harmful to the environment. With cloud computing, businesses don’t need to worry about hardware upgrades or disposal. The cloud provider takes care of all of that, which can reduce the amount of e-waste generated. 

Flexibility: Cloud computing allows for more efficient use of resources, as data centres can be shared among multiple users, reducing the overall energy consumption and carbon footprint. 

The benefits for small businesses 

For small businesses, the benefits of using a cloud that is more eco-friendly are numerous: 

     

      • Cost savings: By using a cloud provider that is more energy-efficient, small businesses can save money on their energy bills 

       

        • Reputation: As consumers become more environmentally conscious, businesses that prioritise sustainability are likely to be viewed more favourably. By using a green cloud provider, small businesses can improve their reputation and attract environmentally conscious customers 

        • Scalability: Cloud computing allows small businesses to scale their operations up or down as needed, without having to worry about the physical limitations of on-site infrastructure. This can lead to more efficient use of resources and a smaller environmental footprint. 

      3 things to look for when choosing a green cloud storage provider 

      When thinking about choosing a green cloud storage provider, here are five key things to consider: 

         

          1. Renewable energy sources: Look for cloud storage providers that use renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, or geothermal energy, to power their data centres. This helps to minimise the carbon footprint of cloud storage operations

           

            1. Energy efficiency: Choose a provider that uses energy-efficient servers, cooling systems and other IT infrastructure equipment. Energy-efficient systems consume less energy, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and operational costs 

            1. Recycling and waste management: Look for providers that have robust recycling and waste management programmes in place. This includes proper disposal of electronic waste (e-waste) and responsible data destruction practices 

          The importance of choosing the right provider

          While cloud computing can be a green alternative to on-site infrastructure, it’s important to choose the right provider. Not all cloud providers are created equal when it comes to sustainability. 

          When evaluating cloud providers, look for those that prioritise renewable energy sources, have energy-efficient data centres, and are transparent about their environmental impact. By choosing a green cloud provider, you can ensure that your business is doing its part to reduce its carbon footprint. 

          With EBS Cloud hosting, we’re very proud of the fact that our data centre uses 100% renewable energy. 

          To learn more about our green credentials, we’d be happy to talk to you further should you consider using us for your cloud hosting. Just get in touch! 

          Conclusion

          So, how green is cloud computing? Overall, it’s a much greener alternative to on-site infrastructure. Cloud providers can achieve significant energy savings and reduce hardware waste. However, it’s important to choose a provider that prioritises sustainability to ensure that you’re making the most environmentally-friendly choice possible. 

          We’re here to support you every step of the way, and our friendly team are here waiting to help and assist you. 

          We’d love to hear from you, so please email us at info@ebs.tech, give us a call on 0121 384 2513, or click the ‘Contact Us’ button below and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.