Eco-Friendly or Energy Hungry? Assessing Energy Consumption in Cloud Data Centers

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Data transfer to the cloud is a secure, convenient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly solution. By giving up your company’s physical server, you save costs and natural resources. Meanwhile, energy consumption in cloud computing data centers rises with each new shared storage user. Is cloud computing more environmentally friendly than having a small server? Read the article and see what cloud data center energy consumption looks like and how it strives for sustainability.

Overview of Energy Consumption in Cloud Computing

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2022, data center power consumption reached values close to 240-340 TWh. It is about 1-1.3% of global energy demand. Looking from 2015, IEA analysis reports growth between 20% and 70%. Lower increases in data center power consumption are reported by giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Meanwhile, spikes in energy consumption in cloud computing data centers are noticed in smaller European countries such as Ireland or Denmark.

The Carbon Footprint of Cloud Computing

Citing the IEA again, data centers account for 1% of energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Data centers accounted for about 330 million tons of CO2 equivalent in 2020, corresponding to 0.9% of energy-related GHG emissions or 0.6% of total GHG emissions. Despite the rapidly growing demand for energy in digital services, carbon emissions have increased slightly since 2010.

Regulatory and Industry Perspectives

Two important directives on cloud computing energy consumption will come into force in the EU in 2024. One is the CSRD, which will require large organizations, including technology companies, to report on sustainability metrics and energy and carbon emissions. The EED will introduce requirements from May 2024 for EU-based data centers to report their total energy consumption.

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Analyzing Energy Use in Cloud Data Centers

The most power-consuming processes in cloud data centers are storage activity and cooling. HDDs require more energy, so a widespread shift to SSDs is vital to reduce power consumption. Other elements that affect cloud data center energy consumption are network devices, which are necessary for the fast and efficient use of resources stored in data centers.

Sustainability Strategies in Cloud Infrastructure

While data centers seem to be constantly energy-starving, researchers and programmers are developing ways to implement sustainability strategies into cloud computing energy consumption. Below, you will find some eco-friendly ideas that support the green dimension of cloud data centers.

Energy-Efficient Data Centers

In a time of rapid climate change, every data center should strive for efficient energy management by adjusting its equipment. At the top of the list, special attention should be paid to the server and drive energy use, network connections, and cooling systems. Switching to SSDs can save several watts of energy per unit, and efficient distribution of cooling schemes will reduce power consumption for this most intensive process in the cloud data center.

Renewable Energy Sources

The growing use of renewable energy sources represents a huge potential for more effective management of energy consumption in cloud computing. Dynamic load allocation and migration between data centers can help reduce costs by shifting load to regions where energy is cleaner or cooling costs are lower.

Server Virtualization

More than half of all workloads in data centers are virtual machines, and this percentage will continue to grow in the coming years. To address the complexity and scalability issues, there is a need to identify the techniques for automatically managing VM migration. Large-scale VM deployments require the creation of advanced migration management techniques and efficient load shifting.

Green Software Engineering

Green software engineering considers software, architecture, hardware, and data center design based on electricity markets and climate change. Implementing green software engineering in an organization targets generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the company’s carbon footprint.

Energy-Efficient Networking

Network equipment has a high energy demand, generating a lot of heat, which increases the need for a cooling system. Researchers are working on several ways to make the network sustainable. One is an intelligent heuristic algorithm for dynamic requests between different data centers and between data centers and users. Another is the implementation of 5G network-related innovations, such as liquid-cooled base stations or redesigned chipsets to improve computing performance.

Advanced Cooling Technologies

Paradoxically, data center cooling systems consume more energy than the servers themselves. The average data center cooling system consumes about 40% of the energy in cloud computing data centers. To mitigate the need for excessive cooling in data centers, it makes sense to ensure that cloud systems are deployed in an optimized manner. With our extensive experience at Scalo, we will advise you on organizing your software processes to reduce the environmental impact.

Cloud computing energy consumption

FinOps and Energy Management in Cloud Computing

Along with the benefits of harnessing the power of the cloud to drive innovation, flexibility, and scalability, there are challenges in effectively managing costs. This is where FinOps in cloud computing ensures business goals are achieved without exceeding financial targets.

The Role of FinOps in Managing Energy Consumption

The word FinOps is a blend of the terms Finance and DevOps. FinOps sometimes refers to cost management or cloud finance. The main difference between FinOps and these terms is the cultural impact, which extends to members of the entire organization.
FinOps culture encompasses a set of values, principles, and practices that permeate the company. FinOps in cloud computing helps achieve maximum business value from investments.

Implementing FinOps Strategies for Efficient Resource Utilization

FinOps methodologies typically involve using cloud cost management tools and finding the best solutions for analyzing cloud spending, identifying cost-saving opportunities, and allocating costs to specific teams, projects, or products.
FinOps in cloud computing involves collaboration between finance, technology, and business teams to establish and enforce processes that enable teams to track, analyze, and optimize cloud costs. By merging FinOps and energy consumption, data center costs align with business goals to provide a balance between cost optimization and efficiency. It means that organization can achieve their business goals without over-utilizing cloud resources.

How Companies Specializing in Cloud Software Development Can Help

Do you want to contribute to lowering data center power consumption? Check out the options you can implement in your company with the help of Scalo’s cloud software development specialists.

Sustainability Consultation
Eco-aware software architecture helps introduce sustainable digital technology through the cloud solution lifecycle. Consultation with Scalo about cloud software can positively influence your company’s FinOps and energy consumption in cloud computing data centers.

Green Software Development
Software developed with environmental impact in mind supports the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and decreases the use of valuable energy. Outsource your new application to Scalo developers to ensure it is environmentally friendly.

Cloud-Native Applications
We will create new or optimize your existing cloud applications for you to be as eco-friendly as possible. In Scalo, we’ll guarantee solutions that reduce cloud computing energy consumption while accelerating your business.

Education and Training
How to effectively use cloud data centers? How can each employee affect FinOps and energy consumption? These and other questions will be answered for you and your team by Scalo employees seasoned in the sustainable use of cloud solutions.

Continuous Improvement
The climate is changing, technology is advancing, and more countries are moving to renewable energy sources. It entails changes in cloud data centers, which your company should also adapt to. To ensure that your software is always up-to-date and has the lowest possible cloud computing energy consumption, Scalo developers will provide you with continuous improvement in line with guidelines and trends.

Balancing Efficiency and Environmental Responsibility

Environmental concerns and the growing demand for cloud computing don’t go hand in hand. Despite all remedies, the share of data centers in global energy use will increase. However, with proactive measures, we can achieve a balance between cloud data center energy consumption and eco-friendliness.

The Road Ahead for Eco-Friendly Cloud Computing

The way to environmental balance in cloud computing is winding and bumpy, but we now have many development tools to help maintain sustainability. There is also hope for the increasing share of renewable energy among all power sources. The IT industry can chart a sustainable path toward a greener future through these efforts.

Final Thoughts on Energy Consumption in Cloud Data Centers

Whether you’re transitioning to a virtual infrastructure or just planning your operations, it’s best to enlist the expert’s help to make sure your project goes well. Scalo’s skilled specialists can help you assess your software infrastructure’s current energy consumption and identify improvement areas.

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