Posted: 09 Sep. 2022 4 min. read

Cloud can help build a more sustainable future

 A blog post by David Linthicum, chief cloud strategy officer, Cloud Services, Deloitte Consulting LLP


Sustainability is top of mind for many companies today, and for good reason. Environmental and cost concerns provide ample impetus for sustainability initiatives. Cloud computing is one key way companies can practice sustainability and still have access to the IT resources they need to innovate, increase customer satisfaction, and grow their market share. How? Cloud computing is more sustainable because resource use is optimized, and cloud providers typically employ green operations practices.


Pre-cloud, organizations either built and maintained data centers, or they shared data co-location centers with (maybe) a couple of other companies. However, those options didn’t provide much flexibility. Because of the need to plan and acquire infrastructure for anticipated growth, the majority of server and compute resources companies owned or leased were heavily underutilized, and they often remained underutilized even as companies evolved and business needs grew, consuming unnecessary power and dollars for very little return.


Multitenancy optimizes resource use

As cloud evolved, companies moved applications and workloads to public cloud providers, and they gained more flexibility and economy in their IT spending. The reason is simple: Public cloud providers leverage large-scale multitenancy—a practice that enables companies to share hardware, storage, and even software with many other companies on cloud-based servers as tenants rather than owners. Multitenancy helps optimize resources by allowing companies to use only the compute and storage resources they need and spin up or spin down those resources as their needs change.


Leveraging cloud-based data centers also allows companies to make architectural and code changes to applications or data storage systems to optimize energy needs, thereby reducing consumption. It’s the same application set, just with improved resource allocation and power usage—which is a significant upgrade from traditional data centers, where companies had to purchase, wait for, and install additional servers to run high-power-consuming applications.


Cloud providers are very green focused

In addition to the tangible benefits multitenancy provides, public cloud providers are very focused on “going green” and making significant efforts to leverage clean energy. Many providers have wind farms; some also have solar farms. Providers are also locating their data centers in places where they can power those data centers with clean power sources. Those sources could be nuclear, they could be wind, they could be solar—or a combination of each.


What they’re trying to avoid are those legacy fuel sources—coal or fossil fuel power plants—because they’re high-carbon-dioxide-emitting energy sources. With green energy sources, even though companies are still consuming more power, they’re burning it in a much more efficient way and doing so in the cloud provider’s data center—a provider who’s going to great efforts to make sure that that power being burned there is also coming from a more sustainable source.


Sustainability is about more than just cloud

Sustainability isn’t just about optimizing compute, storage, and applications. Many organizations, especially cloud providers, are breaking new ground by using environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics used to measure a company’s overall sustainability performance—in addition to power consumption—to determine what impact operations have on the environment. Those metrics might include whom companies are buying power from, employee commute times, and other metrics that can evaluate sustainability and potentially lead to more sustainable practices.


Moving to cloud, with its multitenancy and resource optimization features and clean power sources, can lead to significant gains in sustainable operations. However, companies can also look to the future and make sustainable choices in other aspects of business operations as well—for instance, nudging employees to make more conscious and planet-friendly choices; offering incentives to invest in renewables; and aligning with other sustainability initiatives to chart paths that are better for the business, people, and the environment.


Listen to David Linthicum in this Deloitte On Cloud Knowledge Short podcast, The vital role cloud can play in promoting sustainability, as he discusses the vital role cloud computing can play in sustainability initiatives.



Interested in exploring more on cloud?

Get in touch

David Linthicum

David Linthicum

Managing Director | Chief Cloud Strategy Officer

As the chief cloud strategy officer for Deloitte Consulting LLP, David is responsible for building innovative technologies that help clients operate more efficiently while delivering strategies that enable them to disrupt their markets. David is widely respected as a visionary in cloud computing—he was recently named the number one cloud influencer in a report by Apollo Research. For more than 20 years, he has inspired corporations and start-ups to innovate and use resources more productively. As the author of more than 13 books and 5,000 articles, David’s thought leadership has appeared in InfoWorld, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NPR, Gigaom, and Prior to joining Deloitte, David served as senior vice president at Cloud Technology Partners, where he grew the practice into a major force in the cloud computing market. Previously, he led Blue Mountain Labs, helping organizations find value in cloud and other emerging technologies. He is a graduate of George Mason University.