April 21, 2022

The Sustainability of Public Cloud vs. On Prem Data Centers

What you may not realize if you are hosting your data in the public cloud vs. an on premises data center is that you’re already taking a huge step forward in making your organization more sustainable.

Last month, we talked about the dual benefits of streamlining your cloud environment, both for cutting down on cloud spend and your organization’s carbon footprint. But what you may not realize if you are hosting your data in the public cloud vs. an on premises data center is that you’re already taking a huge step forward in making your organization more sustainable. 

“The results of a study by 451 Research show that AWS’s infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy efficient than the median of U.S. enterprise data centers surveyed. AWS data centers are more energy-efficient than enterprise sites due to comprehensive efficiency programs that touch every facet of the facility.” - Amazon

But before we discuss the true sustainability that comes with moving to the public cloud, let’s do a quick refresh on what sustainability means in a technological context.

When it comes to technology, sustainability is usually defined as using less energy and having lower carbon emissions than would otherwise be required with traditional on-premises data centers. IT's contribution to global carbon emissions is staggering—in 2018 it was estimated that 1% of all electricity consumed on Earth was used by data centers. Many companies, including AWS and Google Cloud, are actively working to reduce their energy use, but how exactly do these public cloud companies also help organizations reduce their own environmental footprint? It's simple: By leveraging economies of scale.

The Public Cloud is More Sustainable than On-Prem Infrastructures

For the average organization, moving to the public cloud means we can keep our green credentials intact. As the power of the cloud grows, the number of on-premises infrastructures shrinks, which reduces energy consumption for businesses. It also means less e-waste as companies replace their aging servers and upgrade their IT infrastructure with a more sustainable solution.

Companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure operate massive data centers with hundreds of thousands or even millions of servers. When you use these facilities instead of building your own infrastructure, you're taking advantage of low costs because it takes less money for them to cool and power a server than it would cost you if you were running it yourself. They also offer Pay-As-You-Go models that allow you to only pay for what you use. This means if your business scales up during peak season, you can scale your IT resources right along with it and then scale back down as soon as you need to.

This model is attractive to companies because they don’t have to worry about investing in all the hardware and software necessary to accommodate business growth or upsizing their infrastructure too early when there are heavier workloads. It also helps those organizations who aren’t sure how much capacity they need, but want flexibility in case things change. Not only does this flexibility benefit the organization in terms of cost savings, it also helps reduce waste because there is no unused technology sitting idle waiting for peak seasons; instead, it can be scaled back down when not being utilized at full capacity.

AWS is also well known for carefully managing its resources in a way that helps them avoid overprovisioning. AWS uses shared cloud resources, which allows it to avoid waste and keep its carbon footprint low. AWS’s data centers are also designed so they can be powered by renewable energy, making Amazon Web Services one of the industry leaders in sustainability.

As a result of these and other practices, Amazon Web Services boasts lower energy consumption than many traditional data centers. According to a study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), companies that adopt AWS’s cloud computing services can reduce their energy consumption by up to 90%, compared with an on-premises data center approach. This savings rate is significant considering the amount of energy consumed by today’s hybrid IT environments, especially when you consider the number of servers and other hardware needed to support an on-premises environment.

Moving from on-premises data centers to Amazon Web Services also reduces costs related to hardware, software licenses, storage, backup and recovery systems, power usage and cooling systems. All told, businesses using public cloud services like AWS are able to save time and money while reducing their carbon emissions at the same time—so they get the best of all worlds when it comes to their bottom line.

Get a Grip on Your Cloud Sustainability

Tenacity helps you get a grip on your cloud assets and keep your public cloud waste under control... both from a sustainability and cost perspective. While other cloud management tools ignore the problem of reclaiming wasted resources, our platform helps you regain control of your public cloud usage and costs so you can stop the waste and stop using inefficient tools that don't really help.

Want to learn more about how Tenacity can help you make your cloud footprint safer, cheaper and greener? Head to our website and click “Try For Free” to get your free report of your cloud environment — including a run down of where you could be saving when it comes to cloud spend, cloud waste, and cloud sustainability.

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