Sustainable cloud positions companies to deliver on new commitments: carbon reduction and responsible innovation. Companies have historically driven financial, security, and agility benefits through cloud, but sustainability is becoming an imperative.

44%

of CEOs in the United Nations Global Compact - Accenture Strategy CEO Study on Sustainability see a net-zero future for their company in the next ten years.

4.7x

Between 2013-2019, companies with consistently high environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance enjoyed 4.7x higher operating margins and lower volatility than low ESG performers over the same period.

30-40%

Migrations to public cloud result in up to 30-40% total cost of ownership (TCO) savings.

Drivers like greater workload flexibility, better server utilization rates, and more energy-efficient infrastructure all make public clouds more cost efficient than enterprise-owned data centers.

Migrations to the public cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons per year which equates to taking 22 million cars off the road.

As importantly, cloud migrations also unlock new opportunities like clean energy transitions enabled by cloud-based geographic analyses, material waste reductions from better data insights, and targeted medical R&D as a result of faster analytics platforms.

Migrating toward a greener cloud

Not all cloud migration approaches are created equal. Sustainability benefits will vary based on these three things:

1. Select with purpose

The first step towards a sustainable cloud journey begins with selecting a carbon-thoughtful provider. Cloud operators set different corporate commitments towards sustainability, which in turn determine how they plan, build, power, operate, and retire their data centers.

2. Build with ambition

The journey toward a sustainable cloud involves three ambition levels:

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) migrations without major redesign

Companies with average on-premise to cloud migrations can drive 65% energy reduction and carbon emission reduction of 84%.

Sustainable software engineering practices

Companies can reduce application energy consumption by up to 50x when selecting the appropriate programming language for the task.

Application optimization for fabric of the cloud

Companies can stretch carbon emission reductions to 98% by configuring applications for the cloud.

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The graphic below indicates the incremental levels of carbon reduction that can be achieved—the greater the ambition, the greater the reduction in carbon emissions.

High
CO2 Intensity
Low
On-Premise Enterprise IT-Footprint
10-20%
Power & Cooling Efficiency
10-15%
Hardware Efficiency
35-45%
Compute Utilization
5-10%
Sustainable Software Engineering
5-10%
Cloud-Native Application Architecture
15-20%
Carbon Free
Energy & HW
Circular Economy
Cloud Footprint
Cloud-based
Sustainability Use Cases

3. Innovate further

Companies can unlock greater financial, societal and environmental benefits through cloud-based circular operations and sustainable products and services.

The greenest cloud

Companies beginning their cloud journey confront a number of questions. The decisions they make will directly determine how sustainable their solutions are and the benefits they drive. Those that choose wisely will gain unprecedented levels of innovation leading to both a greener planet and a greener balance sheet.

Peter Lacy

Chief Responsibility Officer and Global Sustainability Services Lead


Paul Daugherty

Group Chief Executive – Technology, and CTO


Kishore Durg

Senior Managing Director – Intelligent Cloud & Infrastructure Lead


Pavel Ponomarev​

Principal Director – Sustainability, Accenture Strategy

Contributor

Kushal Amin

Senior Consultant – Sustainability, Strategy


Sundeep Singh

Principal Director – Sustainability Accenture Strategy


Sanjay Podder

Lead – Technology Innovation (ASIAM, Greater China and Japan) and Tech4Good Program


Swati Sharma

Application Development Senior Manager – Technology

MORE ON THIS TOPIC

Cloud ascent
The Circular Economy Handbook
UNGC – Accenture Strategy CEO Study on Sustainability

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