While it isn’t a universal solution that makes sense in every single situation, switching to the cloud can deliver all sorts of benefits to many businesses. But what about its effect on your carbon footprint? Does a cloud migration help you go green, or does it just shift the ecological burden around?
If you’re concerned about your environmental impact and are looking at your network and IT environment in that light, here’s what you need to know about the cloud.
The Cloud and the Environment
If you’re running everything in-house, you can probably get a read on how much your servers and so on are costing you. You can measure the electricity, and that’s a pretty good start.
Yes, there are other environmental considerations, like how the hardware you’re using was made, but we’ll set those aside for a moment.
Sometimes there’s this idea that moving to the cloud makes those impacts go away.
The short answer: that’s not how this works.
Moving all your stuff to the cloud means that now someone else’s big data center is handling the load that you currently handle on your own server. That cloud provider faces the same costs and ecological impacts of electricity usage and hardware manufacturing.
The longer answer: technically, because they are operating at such a huge scale, the cloud operators can do what you’re doing more efficiently, and probably using less energy.
It Gets Complicated
That said, measuring this kind of impact is messy, and it can get complicated in a hurry. The physical location of a cloud provider’s data centers, the practices they use inside those data centers, and several other factors can influence this ecological impact.
Not to mention, when the impact is invisible, it’s…well, invisible. We don’t think about how much processing power the online tools we use every day require, because that processing happens somewhere else.
So, to sum up: if your only reason for switching to the cloud is to help the environment or go green, you’re probably better off focusing your green initiatives elsewhere. You might be doing the planet a teeny, tiny favor, but the impacts are negligible.
That said: the green component is just one (iffy) reason to embrace the cloud. There are lots more.
Why You Should Consider the Cloud Anyway
Even if the cloud isn’t your golden ticket for going green, your business should still consider the move. Here are a few reasons why.
First, the cloud is resilient. What happens if your server room catches on fire or floods? Even if you’re protected with off-site backups, you’re still facing huge issues as you try to rebuild systems on which you can load those backups.
The cloud is resilient: your data (usually) isn’t stored on just a single server. And your cloud provider has tons and tons of servers (literally: they’re heavy!), so the relative impact of one of them going kaput is small.
There are a few security concerns with the cloud, like traffic being intercepted between the cloud server and you. But in other, much more significant ways, the cloud is a better choice for security.
Pop quiz: who’s better at server security, Amazon or you?
Probably Amazon, right? Same with Microsoft, Google, Cloudflare, and all the other cloud providers. Because they’re operating at such scale, they can stay on the forefront of security in a way that your small IT team can’t.
When you run out of storage space or computing capacity on your on-premises network, what do you do? It’ll be weeks, if not months, before anyone can install additional hardware. (And that hardware is face-meltingly expensive sometimes!)
Then, after you do get that additional server installed, what if you no longer need it three months later? It’s pretty tough to get your money back on those things.
In contrast, the cloud gives you instant scalability. Run out of capacity? Just up your contract and unlock as much as you need.
That’s it for this week. If you’re considering a move to the cloud or you’re just plain overwhelmed by what that might look like, we can help! Reach out now.