The heightened case for cloud in a high energy cost world


Much research has been conducted into the energy efficiency of cloud computing. Most of it was done a few years ago. But it’s even more relevant now, as energy costs for businesses have spiralled to levels that even the gloomiest wouldn’t have predicted.

Microsoft’s efforts, conducted in conjunction with WSP Global Inc, concluded that cloud computing is 93 percent more energy-efficient and has 98 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than on-premises data centres.

AWS (one of the other ‘Big 3’ public cloud providers) used its billions to deduce through research that businesses can reduce energy use by nearly 80 percent when they run their applications on the cloud instead of operating their own data centres.

In today’s price terms, that’s a very significant monetary saving for a business. Some estimates suggest that businesses in NI are paying vastly more for their energy now than they were in 2020.

The AWS report found that compared to the computing resources of the average European company, cloud servers are roughly three times more energy efficient and that migrating compute workloads to the cloud across Europe could decrease greenhouse gas emissions equal to the footprint of millions of households.

Collaborative research by Berkeley Lab and Northwestern University and funded by Google (the other part of the big tripartite) found that cloud computing can cut energy consumption by 87 percent. The report noted that the saved energy in the US alone could power Los Angeles for a year. The survey affirmed that organisations could save between 60 percent and 85 percent in energy costs when they shift to cloud-based services.

As much as we compete with AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google through our OSG Cloud platform, we agree with their findings about the energy efficiency of cloud.

That’s because modern, purpose-built data centres are designed to run as efficiently as possible. Commercial cloud services can operate more economically than smaller on-premises operations, with large-scale dynamic provisioning and multitenant architecture.

Cloud data centres are also efficient because cloud providers focus on sustainability across their entire operation. In contrast, most businesses don’t prioritise their data centre infrastructure sustainability, because digital infrastructure is not their core business.

Cloud providers focus on efficiency as a best practice. They operate servers at much higher utilisation rates and design facilities to use less energy and water.

This helps reduce overall energy consumption and associated costs, but equally importantly, delivers good corporate responsibility by continuously focusing on improvement to further help reduce carbon footprints and ultimately achieve sustainability. Demand for consolidated electricity by commercial cloud providers creates the potential for large-scale purchases of green energy that would otherwise be unfeasible.

OSG Cloud for instance uses 100 percent renewable energy and by providing a multi-tenanted cloud platform to its customers further maximises these efficiencies, resulting in an overall reduction in aggregate energy consumption when compared to customers running the equivalent server footprint on-premise.

We’ve been encouraging customers to consider a move to the cloud for years. Now more than ever, with energy costs so high, businesses really need look into whether doing so could save them large sums of money as well as improve their IT infrastructure.

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