Cloud Computing Green Initiatives on the Rise

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Click to learn more about author Jay Chapel.

Over the past couple of months, we have seen a lot of articles about the Big Three cloud providers and their efforts to be environmentally friendly and make cloud computing green. What are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) doing to make their IaaS services as green as possible? Does moving to the cloud help enterprises with their green initiatives and use of renewable energy?

It seems the cloud providers are focused on using renewable energy like solar and wind to power their massive data centers and are very actively touting that fact.

For example, Microsoft recently announced a new renewable energy initiative, the Sunseap project. For this project, Microsoft’s first Asian clean energy deal, the vendor will install solar panels on hundreds of rooftops in Singapore, which it claims will generate 60MW to power Microsoft’s Singapore data center – making Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and numerous other cloud services green. This deal is its third international clean energy announcement, following two wind deals announced in Ireland and the Netherlands in 2017. That’s pretty cool in my book, so kudos to Microsoft.

Google made a similar announcement recently, albeit a little more general. It touts that it is now buying enough renewable energy to match the power used in its data centers and offices. Google said that last year its total purchase of energy from sources, including wind and solar, exceeded the amount of electricity used by its operations around the world. According to a recent blog written by Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, it is the first public cloud for a company of its size to have achieved that feat. Now we can’t verify this but let’s take them at face value given the data in the chart below:

One observation we have in looking at this chart – where are IBM and Oracle? Once again, the Big Three always seem to be several steps ahead.

And what about AWS? Its own reports indicate that it is behind both Google and Microsoft in terms of relying 100% on renewable energy. AWS had stated that it has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for its global infrastructure footprint and had set a goal to be powered by 50% renewable energy by the end of 2017. We could not find a recent 2018 update on its progress.

Moving to the cloud has many benefits – time to market, agility, innovation, lower upfront cost, and the commitment to renewable energy! There’s one other way for cloud computing to be more sustainable – and that’s by all of us using fewer resources. In our small way, we help – we help you turn cloud stuff off when it’s not being used, kind of like following your kids around the house and shutting off the lights, your own at-home green initiative. You know you can automate that using Nest, right? Saving money in the process? That’s a win-win.

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