Cloud-based Services Boost Efficiency and Sustainability

Businesses seeking to reduce their carbon footprint can turn to cloud-based computing, which already offers operational efficiencies. With cloud computing providers determined to reduce their own carbon emissions and to improve sustainability, their customers will see the impact as well.


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Image credit: EXE.IT (the Green Data Center)

With the push toward sustainability, recently underscored by the United Nations Summit’s focus on Sustainable Development Goals, many businesses have announced plans to reduce their carbon footprint, improve sustainability, and embrace a circular economy model. As their self-imposed deadlines loom, these businesses are using artificial intelligence and advanced system design to reach their goals.

Some goals are easier to implement than others. Moving a client to a cloud provider is a logical first step. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, the three largest cloud providers, all have stated their intention to operate more sustainably, which in turn, helps their customers to do so. 

Amazon is on track to power its own operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025—five years ahead of schedule. Last year it launched The Climate Pledge, a program that invests in companies that develop products and solutions that support the shift to low-carbon operations.

One study conducted by 451 Research for Amazon, highlights the efficiencies gained from using a public cloud infrastructure and the impact it can have on a company’s sustainability efforts. About 20 percent of an enterprise’s rack-based servers are unused or abandoned by network administrators, so consolidating those operations on a public cloud eliminates waste from underutilization. According to that study, the AWS infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy efficient than the average enterprise system. When you factor in carbon emissions and renewable energy offsets, the AWS carbon footprint is 88 percent lower.

The Cool Processor        

Data centers are notoriously hot spaces, requiring AC to keep servers humming. Google has vowed to bring down the carbon footprint of its cloud-based services by reducing the energy required to operate its data centers. That plan includes using machine learning techniques to minimize energy consumption and the use of energy-efficient Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors in specially designed racks optimized for air flow.

In Bologna, Italy, IT services provider EXE.IT already has developed the Green Data Center, dubbed 00Gate. The zero-emission data center was built with solar panels, free-cooling air conditioning, and the Lenovo ThinkAgile CP platform. EXE.IT deployed a ThinkAgile CP6000 cluster with four compute nodes, two Storage Blocks, and two Interconnects. The cluster is powered by Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors, which optimize performance, and it is managed through the ThinkAgile CP Cloud Controller.

Data graphs for data center showing carbon emissions stats

Image credit: Microsoft

The 00Gate data center also runs a Lenovo ThinkSystem SR650 server, with low-latency lntel® Optane™ Solid State Drives (SSDs) and high-capacity Intel® 3D NAND SSDs. The technologies improve storage performance and provide redundancy and high availability in the data center.

The scalable, modular ThinkAgile CP system features advanced automation, provisioning, and security capabilities. It enables EXE.IT to offer its customers sustainable, zero-emission IT services, which is increasingly important to businesses.

Aiming for a Negative Impact

Microsoft previously announced aggressive plans to be carbon negative by 2030. The company has launched a $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund to facilitate the development of technologies that reduce and remove carbon. Microsoft has several AI initiatives, including the AI for Good program, which provides grants to researchers who develop AI-based systems to address environmental, healthcare, humanitarian, and cultural issues.

In addition, Microsoft is developing technologies that allow its customers and suppliers to reduce their carbon footprints. One tool it offers is the Emissions Impact Dashboard, which displays an organization’s carbon emissions from using Azure services.

As companies strive to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their sustainability, tools like these and cloud computing make it easier to achieve those goals.

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