Going green on the cloud
December 4, 2020
December 4, 2020
Sustainability is one of the defining issues of our age. And for countries in Accenture’s growth markets regions—Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America—the need to take a responsible approach to the environment is perhaps even more pressing.
These regions are faced with some of the biggest sustainability challenges on the planet. From the Amazon Basin to Pantanal to the Himalayas, they’re home to many of the world’s biggest carbon sinks and critical freshwater sources—as well as around 80 percent of humanity.
So it’s easy to see why many governments and companies in growth markets are committed to reducing their carbon footprints and meeting their Sustainability Development Goals.
What’s more, maintaining that commitment is now essential, especially as the disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the focus towards increasing resilience and fueling new growth.
But what does all this have to do with cloud computing?
A great deal, in fact. We’re now seeing the emergence of a “green cloud” which offers the prospect of not only greater enterprise scalability, agility and growth, but also higher sustainability.
Put simply, green cloud means using cloud in a more environmentally responsible way. For cloud providers, that means the intelligent optimization of infrastructure design and the use of renewable energy to power data centers. For cloud customers, it means choosing the right cloud, compute location, and application architecture to help improve the sustainability of deployments.
By taking a proactive approach to lowering carbon emissions and unlocking new responsible applications of cloud technology, green cloud has the potential to help enterprises become more responsible and more sustainable businesses.
The opportunity for green cloud is growing as business across growth markets accelerate their cloud journey. And to fuel this growth, the big cloud service providers —AWS, Google, Microsoft, and the like—are moving into emerging markets in a big way, increasing the opportunities for companies to benefit from their scalable infrastructure and innovative services.
At the same time, many countries are already demonstrating a strong commitment to sustainability. Japan and Singapore, for example, have set up carbon taxation norms. The United Arab Emirates has launched several governmental initiatives aimed at reducing emissions by around 40 percent. And, taking a step further, China is actively trying to reduce the carbon footprint of data centers in Beijing by banning facilities with high power usage.
The promise of green cloud is that it can form a bridge between these two equally important trends—a burgeoning cloud market on the one hand and a growing focus on sustainability on the other.
Another important aspect of green cloud is that it’s relevant to the whole cloud journey.
In fact, it starts right from the early design phases of a cloud migration. When identifying which workloads, applications, and data to migrate, and which cloud vendor platform to migrate them to, enterprises should now be thinking about potential sustainability benefits just as much as financial and operational efficiencies.
Later, in the develop and deploy stage of a cloud journey, enterprises can also adopt green software engineering and deployment techniques. Then, post deployment, the focus shifts towards optimizing operations through carbon transparency and end-to-end circularity.
The key point is that taking the right design decisions at each stage can add up to significant sustainability benefits for the enterprise overall.
Growth markets are progressing rapidly on the cloud maturity curve. As they do so, green cloud initiatives offer a chance for organizations in these economies to maintain their focus on growth and resilience while building in greater levels of sustainability.
In fact, Accenture’s brand new Cloud Outcomes research shows that the vast majority (86 percent) of APAC companies surveyed see cloud as a critical component in meeting their sustainability goals. So the message has clearly got through.
However, the reality is that without the right levels of expertise and resources, some enterprises may struggle to capture all the sustainability value on offer with green cloud. This is where working with a trusted service provider, such as Accenture, that understands the green cloud environment intimately can be invaluable.
Accenture, for example, has been developing a Green Cloud Advisor for eliminating blind spots when analyzing the sustainability of a cloud migration as part of its myNav platform. The advisor allows us to help clients better understand both their existing carbon footprint and the sustainability of their various cloud options.
Accenture has also been working with a major cloud provider to support its Tech4Good Amplify program. The collaboration is looking to help extend the reach of entrepreneurs and start-ups that are focused on social impact and sustainability. That includes helping them to build scalable solutions and business models that can lead to more tangible and lasting benefits for a greater number of people around the world.
The need of the hour for emerging economies is to make their growth, resilience and sustainability initiatives more cohesive and effective. That means finding a way to help these economies continue to benefit from the growth potential of cloud technologies, but in the most sustainable way possible. Green cloud is likely going to be a big part of that solution.
[The authors would like to acknowledge the research contributions of Vikrant Kaulgud from Accenture Labs and Pranav Kudesia from Accenture Research]
Read more on Green Cloud here.
This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors. This document refers to marks owned by third parties. All such third-party marks are the property of their respective owners. No sponsorship, endorsement or approval of this content by the owners of such marks is intended, expressed or implied. Copyright © 2020 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture and its logo are registered trademarks of Accenture
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