Cloud Computing: Environmental Impacts and Sustainability

Cloud Computing: Environmental Impacts and Sustainability

June 1, 2022 0 By Hoofer
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With all of the ever-changing and evolving technology, it may not be easy to see just how they can affect the environment. Often, it’s easier to think of how they help people. After all, they greatly benefit the many businesses that they serve. It’s easier to form connections with others, and there are many opportunities that technology has given. The concept of cloud computing in itself is one good example of technology that may appear to give a lot of help—that is, if you don’t consider the sustainability factor first.

What is Cloud Computing?

Before understanding the effects, it’s important to find out what cloud computing is first. It involves providing a variety of computing services through the internet. These services are a wide range, depending on whatever is needed. Sometimes, it may involve those that are as simple as using the general applications used around the office. Other times, it can go as far as networking or even monitoring artificial intelligence. Familiar sites such as Google and even Netflix make use of this frequently. The main idea is that these services are in the cloud—a known metaphor for the internet.

What is it for?

Cloud computing services are fairly common, and it’s no surprise as to why. It’s not simply because many of our regular routines revolve around the internet. There are a variety of benefits that these services provide.

Reduces Cost

There’s no need for a large physical location when it comes to these types of services. And since that’s the case, it becomes much easier to save. There’s no need to pay for a data center’s electricity costs or rent payments. In terms of man power, there are much less people needed to manage the area. All of these expenses, when put together, can total to a lot of savings in the long run. It is usually only the larger data computing companies that make use of a lot of space.

Efficiency

Besides saving money, time can also be saved. Productivity can increase for firms that utilize cloud computing. That’s because the general tasks that usually take up a lot of time don’t need to be done. Setting up the hardware and software patching are just some of the things that can be eliminated when cloud computing is at play.

Safety & Security

It’s always important to keep your firm safe from any cyber attacks. Now more than ever, keeping data and information secure is a must for any firm. Cloud providers may sometimes have certain policies that can aid in protecting any pertinent information. It can be a good way to assure any website users that any data that they enter will be kept safe.

What About the Environment?

But despite all of these benefits, cloud computing has a large carbon footprint. A lot of it has to do with the data centers that carbon computing services need. The effects of these centers may not be easily seen or even connected. But when there are several companies looking to reach net-zero emissions, firms that use these services would need to consider the possible environmental impacts.

Energy Use

Many of these services are required to put up with the needs of many people all over the world at all times. There are back-up servers that are ready in case one fails. This is more so to prevent any power disruptions that may cause users to be negatively affected. That way, it prevents any waiting time. As such, cloud computing data centers use a lot of energy. It uses a lot of electricity, equivalent to tens of thousands of homes.

Cooling

With the amount of energy that these data centers use on a daily basis, it can cause some overheating. It is necessary to provide cooling mechanisms to prevent any machine malfunctioning. Cooling air is usually used, although this causes large amounts of water being wasted. It also depletes the precious resource. And if the data centers happen to be located near a group of residents, the water shortages and droughts would definitely be a negative.

So… is it Sustainable?

To be able to see just how sustainable these cloud computing services are, the environmental costs and benefits must be weighed. It is difficult to try to think of an entirely new system or technological development that could completely take out the carbon emissions. But there are a few large-scale tech companies that have tried to offset these emissions by finding other ways to help the environment. Some have tried to use renewable energy so that they can be considered as carbon neutral. Still, it is hard to say if this strategy is effective in a long term situation. It is up to the different companies to find more sustainable solutions. Perhaps, in time, there would be a more effective way to help cloud computing centers reduce their carbon footprint. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kat Sarmiento is a Molecular Biology Scientist turned Growth Marketing Scientist. During her free time, she loves to write articles that will bring delight, empower women, and spark the business mind. She loves to bake but unfortunately, baking doesn’t love her back. She has many things in her arsenal and writing is one of her passion projects.