Environmental sustainability is one of the most challenging issues facing society, economies, and enterprises today. With an increased focus on sustainability in the media, organisations are under mounting pressure to prioritise environmental sustainability, along with business governance and social change.

Responsible computing and green IT (the practice of environmentally sustainable computing) are essential tools that can help organisations to meet sustainability goals, and cloud is a critical enabler. Many businesses are now looking to their IT teams and technology stack for delivering sustainability-related outcomes across the business.

Cloud adoption provides organisations with opportunities to simplify their technology operations and strengthen their commitment to green IT. The major cloud providers are responding to the growing focus on sustainability by instituting more aggressive carbon-neutral goals, along with new measurement tools for carbon footprint, creating new metrics to help businesses monitor their environmental impact.

For example, Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030; the company has set a further target of 2050 to eliminate all the carbon it has produced since it first started in 1975. Amazon plans to run its operations on 100% renewable energy by 2025; it also aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across operations by 2040. Tech giant Google is ahead of the competition—it’s been carbon-neutral since 2007 and plans to be carbon-free by 2030.

This article explores how cloud can be instrumental in driving environmental change and delivering sustainability-related outcomes for organisations.

Why is it important for businesses to set and achieve sustainability targets?

Sustainability isn’t just about doing good for our planet or society— it has become material to the financial valuation and public perception of organisations.

According to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is now critical for talent acquisition. Millennials are increasingly concerned about the environment and are only willing to join businesses that are taking steps to reduce their impact on the planet. According to PwC, 86% of staff prefer to work for or support organisations that share their values.

Additionally, 83% of consumers want companies to play an active role in establishing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) best practices. Another 76% stated that they would not associate with organisations that treat the environment, their employees, or the local community poorly.

CSR practices can also provide competitive advantage, enabling businesses to attract and retain customers by engaging with them through tech-enabled sustainable products and services. This allows the customers to participate in the organisation’s goals, which builds brand loyalty and advocacy.

For IT leaders, setting and achieving sustainability targets is even more crucial, as Gartner predicts that by 2025, 50% of CIOs will have performance metrics tied to the sustainability of the IT organisation.

How cloud adoption can help businesses achieve sustainability goals 

Cloud computing helps create a path towards sustainability for organisations across industries. By leveraging advanced technologies to drive digital transformation, businesses can accelerate innovation while limiting their overall impact on the environment.

At its core, cloud technology enables organisations to leverage global networks and effortlessly connect hardware and software. With this, they can scale computing power, store data, and analyse information while providing the necessary resources to innovate sustainably.

Implement carbon-neutral corporate goals

Organisations can respond to the growing focus on sustainability by establishing more aggressive carbon-neutral corporate goals. However, they need new measurement tools to assess their carbon footprint and to build new metrics for infrastructure and operations leaders.

Leading cloud OEMs already have the tools for organisations to determine their IT infrastructure’s carbon emissions. These tools include sustainability calculators that track emissions data associated with their cloud services.

Create a greener supply chain

A decade ago, organisations were concerned that massive datacentres would dramatically increase pollution and demand for energy. However, according to a recent study, datacentre energy consumption rose by only 6% while their computing output increased by six times.

This is because most datacentres were built with sustainability in mind using the most energy-efficient technologies on the planet. Working on a green cloud not only helps reduce a company’s carbon footprint but also helps establish a greener supply chain.

For example, businesses can leverage the cloud and related technologies to unlock environmental benefits. Enterprises with no physical hardware or software can benefit from economies of scale and reduce overall utility usage and waste.

Organisations that work with SXiQ ensure seamless cloud migration, modernisation, and optimisation while benefiting from significant energy savings with carefully planned and designed implementation strategies.

Implement high-density storage

Servers require electricity to operate 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. They consume vast amounts of power and release significant quantities of greenhouse gases. Cloud computing reduces the number of physical servers required to run an organisation’s business processes and stores large volumes of information via high-density storage units; these units use fewer resources, allowing companies to save money on IT infrastructure.

Consolidate demand/optimise the datacentre

Shifting the operation and maintenance of the cloud ecosystem to partners (such as us at SXiQ) who understand operating highly efficient cloud environments can help businesses make more sustainable computing decisions.

As the cloud optimises hybrid working models, enterprises can also consolidate office space and equipment, which translates into lower utility usage and costs. This approach additionally helps reduce the overall impact on the environment by reducing the number of vehicles on the road.

Incorporate environmental objectives into contracts

Although all of the above sounds straightforward, achieving it is far more challenging. Moving from an on-premises datacentre doesn’t automatically yield a sustainable operation. However, as recently noted by Gartner, business leaders overseeing sourcing, procurement, and vendor management can take the initiative and make sure environmental goals are taken into account. This can be the first step in bringing about industry-wide change.

Although cloud services are naturally energy-efficient because of their scale, it doesn’t mean that all cloud vendors follow sustainability best practices. For example, they may not follow recommendations when it comes to cooling systems, electronic waste, and other factors that contribute to their overall carbon footprint. Thus, making sure organisations include such considerations when contracting with third parties is a must.

Summary

As more organisations voluntarily commit to taking steps towards sustainability, they can turn to cloud-managed technology to help them achieve their goals. Whether the motive is concern for environmental issues or an organisation’s bottom line, there is a chance for cloud technology to help lead the charge with a unified experience.

Today, everything is connected, and organisations have complete visibility across devices and domains. This means IT, facilities, physical security, and operations departments can all take advantage of increased efficiencies and implement small actions that make a big difference to the environment.

At SXiQ, we strive to have a positive impact on the planet through sustainable and environmentally sound business practices and inspiring relationships, especially with our community.

Learn more about SXiQ’s sustainability initiatives and strategies that help businesses achieve and exceed sustainability goals in the cloud.

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