How to Embrace Sustainability in Business

Large cloud computer server

Every Cloud has a green lining…

In recent years, sustainability has transformed from a brand vision to a movement that has captured the attention of businesses, and altered the way society consumes products and services alike. The concept of ‘being green’ now extends beyond personal choices and has become a driving force behind corporate strategies. Today, we discuss the importance of sustainability, through the economic paradigm that is the Cloud, and how consideration of environmental enhancements can help businesses fly sky high

Before the launch of the Cloud in 2002, by Amazon’s services; all company data and software were stored on hard drives. Storage and server speed thus became problematic for large scale companies. Cloud computing facilitates the delivery of services, including applications, data storage and data processing, over the internet. The Cloud offers the dream solution to these previous obstacles and, over 2 decades later, the technologies’ reach within society is only progressing, making it one of the most significant advances in the IT sector.

Google, Amazon and Microsoft are some of the most well-known forms of Cloud software. Sustainability with Cloud computing allows businesses to make improvements in key areas:

  • Data and Energy Efficiency: Cloud computing cannot be considered a zero-emissions solution; however, it can achieve higher energy efficiency compared to individual organisations running their own servers. This is due to the consolidation of storage that the Cloud allows. As of 2023, Microsoft claim that cloud computing is up to 93% more energy efficient than the use of on-premises data centres!
  • Enhancing Brand Reputation: In the age of conscious consumerism, sustainability has emerged as a significant factor influencing purchasing decisions. When considering the impact of the Cloud on brand reputation, there are benefits for the protection and encryption of data. Whilst cyber-attacks are never entirely preventable, the Cloud offers advanced, multilayered security that is monitored 24/7 and remains off-site in relation to the company’s premises. This can be a desirable prospect for potential customers/ clients, as well as employees alike. Not only is data stored in a safe place, but it also allows for collaborative work that can be easily shared between a workforce.
  • Encouraging remote working: Granted that approximately 44% of workers in the UK have experienced working from home in the last 3 years (ONS), the Cloud is an attractive alternative to accessing data without the need for visiting the physical office. The Covid-19 pandemic emphasised the amount of unnecessary travel that is undertaken by office workers in the average week, and how working-from-home was an eco-friendlier alternative. This revelation was, unsurprisingly, welcomed by most workers with open arms! The Cloud allows for this work to be possible, as data can be shared, saved and edited all in one place!

In addition to this, cloud technology allows business processes to be streamlined and tailored to company growth. In the case of cloud accounting, business books and data are kept online on a safe remote server that can be accessed anytime from anywhere. This includes records of income and expenses, as well as assets and liabilities. Information is encrypted and only those with login details can view the data. This way all work can be easily stored and accessed by multiple collaborators – without the paper clutter! Cloud accounting also improves the accuracy of finance data and lowers the risk of errors being made. Xero is a notable example of secure cloud accounting that is well-known in the world of accounting. Cloud-based software companies ensure that the security and privacy of data is always airtight. If you use online banking, then you may already be using cloud accounting without even realising it.

It is equally important to recognise the potential drawbacks of Cloud computing, in general. If the cloud grows faster than sustainable energy systems replace fossil fuels, the cloud may receive more of its electricity from harmful sources such as coal and non-renewable energy sources. This may be problematic for a businesses’ environmental decisions. For example, the data centres required to operate the Cloud demand a stable power supply, and in regions where the energy mix includes a significant amount of fossil fuels, the carbon footprint of cloud computing can be higher.

Not only this, but to alleviate thermodynamic threat, data centres rely on air conditioning to lift heat away from the computers. This is an issue for countries that derive their air conditioning and cooling systems from electricity grids that rely on carbon. In most data centres today, cooling accounts for greater than 40 percent of electricity usage!

So, what is the solution?

One common approach is to switch from traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. This would help to reduce the carbon footprint associated with fossil fuelled operations.

Overall, data centres are taking steps to reduce their energy consumption and increase their use of renewable energy sources. As technology advances, we can expect to see more creative solutions to reduce the environmental impact of data centres.

Here at Future Cloud, we pride ourselves on prioritising sustainability in our practice and working lives. From using solely cloud based accounting apps such as Xero and Dext, to flexibility with remote working– as a business we are passionate about developing our environmental awareness for the future.

Sustainability drives innovation. Businesses that invest in sustainable practices often discover new opportunities, develop cutting-edge technologies, and create new products and services that can revolutionise their industry. The three main cloud-storage service options in use are public, private and hybrid clouds. Companies and individuals should evaluate their specific needs and choose an option that meets their requirements for security, accessibility, and cost, whilst also assessing their environmental footprint.

Sustainability is no longer optional for businesses; it has become an imperative for long-term success and the preservation of our planet for the future generations. Get ahead of the curve and consider the use of the Cloud, and other sustainable practices. Remember, it’s not just a trend; it’s a responsibility.

So next time you look up at the sky, marvel at some of the largest clouds that are invisible to the human eye…

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VLS Environmental Solutions
Office For National Statistics
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