Reduced CO2 emissions the silver lining to cloud migrations

Thursday, 24 September, 2020

Reduced CO2 emissions the silver lining to cloud migrations

A report titled ‘The Green behind the Cloud’ from Accenture has revealed that migration to the public cloud can achieve significant carbon reduction in the form of a 5.9% decrease in total IT emissions or nearly 60 million tonnes of CO2 globally per year. Informed by proprietary Accenture analysis based on its experience supporting sustainable cloud migrations for hundreds of clients, the report outlines how companies can achieve the most value from environmentally friendly use and operation of cloud services.

Businesses are under more pressure to solve large socio-economic challenges and shift towards more sustainable practices while boosting profitability. A recent Accenture Strategy-UNGC study found 59% of CEOs are deploying low-carbon and renewable energy across their operations, while 44% see a net-zero, carbon-neutral future for their company. Additionally, two-thirds view technologies like cloud as critical factors for accelerating change and realising their commitments.

Peter Lacy, Senior Managing Director and Global Sustainability Lead at Accenture, notes that sustainable cloud can deliver a double helix effect of shareholder and stakeholder value by reducing costs and carbon emissions.

“Further, the magnitude of carbon reduction achieved through cloud migrations can go a long way in meeting climate change commitments and driving new levels of innovation, ultimately leading to a greener balance sheet and a greener planet,” Lacy said.

Sustainable cloud solutions also deliver financial benefits, with Accenture’s analysis showing up to 30–40% total cost of ownership savings from public cloud, driven by greater workload flexibility, better server utilisation rates and more energy-efficient infrastructure. The report states that the sustainability and financial benefits from cloud migration will vary, based on three factors: the cloud provider selected, the ambition level for cloud optimisation and the level of cloud-enabled sustainability innovations.

“Companies are rapidly moving to the cloud for innovation and cost savings, and sustainability must also be considered as a primary driver,” said Paul Daugherty, Group Chief Executive – Technology and Chief Technology Officer for Accenture. However, Daugherty notes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sustainable cloud journeys. Companies must understand the migration, design and engineering decisions that will determine how sustainable their solutions are and the benefits they drive.

The report outlines three ambition levels in the cloud-first sustainability journey: strategic migrations without major redesign, application of sustainable software engineering practices and application optimisation for the ‘fabric of the cloud’.

Accenture analysis revealed that initial cloud migrations can reduce carbon emissions by more than 84%, compared with conventional infrastructure. Reductions can be pushed higher — by up to 98% — by designing applications specifically for the cloud. To get a current cloud CO2 emission score and recommendations to reduce carbon footprint, Accenture provides a Green Cloud Advisor module as part of its myNav platform, for clients looking to boost their green index goals.

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