3 Ways Cloud Computing Helps SMBs Lower Their Carbon Footprint
The advent of cloud computing has been hailed, among many things, as a roadmap for greener technology. And time has only fueled the need for environmentally-conscious business practices, with more companies looking to empower their employees without compromising finite resources. But has the cloud lived up to this original goal - and if so, how?
As a virtual platform, Microsoft Azure reduces on-premise hardware demand for individual businesses as well as data centers. This hardware is expensive to maintain - from 24x7 cooling and monitoring, to cyclical upgrades. Though many data centers have adopted "fresh air capable" servers that more efficiently regulate temperature, they still necessitate high-level in-house management and securing. A 2019 report on cloud efficiency found that Azure storage was 71-79% more energy efficient than traditional data center storage deployments, depending on the enterprise.
Leveraging document management solutions, such as Microsoft SharePoint, eliminates paper waste while supporting mobile employees. For companies with well-executed BYOD policies, the cloud also reduces the on-premise burden of acquiring, maintaining, and disposing of expensive hardware. Application stacks can be easily mapped to the cloud, ensuring that employees have the resources they need, on the devices they are most comfortable using. Cloud-based collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams allow for Voice over IP, reducing or eliminating the need for expensive phone systems. Furthermore, moving workflows such as employee on-boarding and client invoicing to the cloud frees employees to pursue other projects.
Beyond resource consolidation, how do optimized cloud models lower business costs? For many companies, the answer lies in the data center. In traditional set-ups, servers maintain their output levels regardless of demand. This mismatching is a huge drain on energy, and drives costs up. To better attenuate server performance, more data centers are implementing IoT devices to monitor their server systems and optimize resource consumption. These predictive solutions also alert staff when hardware is approaching end of life, avoiding the high cost of unexpected downtime. This optimization translates to significant energy savings, with Azure Compute currently 52-79% more energy efficient than traditional data center deployments.
Use optimization doesn't stop at the data center, though. Most cloud resources are available on a pay-per-use basis. This provides companies a greater overview of their employees' technical needs, allowing them to scale up or down based on demand. Not only does this model optimize cloud-use budgets, it also saves energy that would otherwise go to maintaining redundant or infrequently used platforms. The strategy appears to be working, as public cloud spend is expected to increase 24% in 2019.
Much like co-working environments, multi-cloud tenancy succeeds through shared but diversified spaces. Traditionally, servers would host individual company infrastructures. Now, servers can house many user types with diverse demands and use patterns. By having demand patterns that are spread out, servers can optimize their performance, meaning that fewer are necessary to maintain the same level of output. These optimized servers can serve millions of active cloud users, and thousands of businesses globally. The cumulative effect is a cloud that's 72-98% more carbon efficient than traditional enterprise data centers.
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