Illustration of our planet surrounded by clouds

Saving emissions with the cloud: the business case for sustainable IT


Sustainability is an increasingly important aspect of the modern working world. More and more customers are attaching great importance to the fact that companies from which they buy or with which they work pay attention to sustainability. The so-called carbon footprint is a key metric in this regard. It shows the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by a particular activity or product. The energy required to operate a data center is becoming an ever greater problem, especially in this age of digitization. A new study shows that moving to a cloud can reduce emissions by up to 88%.

How moving to the cloud reduces the carbon footprint

The study examined a global company offering cloud services and found that moving to a cloud service provider can significantly reduce emissions. The main reasons for saving emissions are synergy effects. Not every company needs to build its own infrastructure. Much greater efficiency can be achieved through a centralized infrastructure.

The use of resources by the cloud provider is also crucial here. Through centralization and the processing of large volumes of data, this provider also has greater market power and can in turn select suppliers and partners itself that meet sustainability criteria and thus build a more sustainable infrastructure overall at lower cost. The corresponding structures make significantly higher energy efficiency possible.

The study showed that the cloud provider studied was able to significantly reduce emissions. Compared to the average data center of a US company, the CO2 footprint was reduced by 88%. Even in the top 10% of the most energy-efficient companies studied, savings of 72% on average were still possible. The study not only focused on the CO2 emissions of the pure server operation at the cloud provider, but also included all processes and resources that are necessary.

Important synergy effects through the cloud

The main savings come from making the technology as energy-efficient as possible and exploiting synergy effects. A cloud service provider can achieve a higher server population by concentrating customers and thus better utilization of the servers. This makes the infrastructure much more efficient than in an ordinary data center with high and rest phases. The companies in the study were found to be using an average of only 18% of their server capacity, resulting in a high waste of resources.

The difference between a cloud provider and a company with a data center is also that the cloud provider’s main business is to constantly improve its infrastructure. Thus, he is interested in constantly upgrading and investing in the latest and most energy-efficient technology. In addition, data centers in companies are often set up once and then investments are only made as needed. They are rarely state-of-the-art in terms of technology and energy efficiency.

The study found that the average 1-megawatt company can reduce 400 to 1000 tons of CO2 emissions by moving to the cloud. This amount can even be increased in the future through the continuous development of the cloud provider.

Other advantages of the cloud

The move to the cloud not only reduces emissions. It offers many other advantages. IT security is a central factor in today’s corporate world. Producing and managing it yourself on your own systems can take up a lot of resources. One also saves on maintenance costs and can easily expand capacities. Especially in times of high energy costs, further costs can be saved by moving to the cloud, as it can work much more energy-efficiently through synergy effects and can be operated more easily with sustainable energy.