UPDATED 08:30 EST / NOVEMBER 26 2019

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AWS says businesses should move to its cloud to lower their carbon footprint

Most businesses are all too aware of the benefits to be had from moving their enterprise technology infrastructure to Amazon Web Services Inc.’s public cloud platform. AWS itself typically cites increased agility and innovation, access to its global infrastructure, and considerable cost savings as the main reasons to consider such a move, and it’s one that numerous organizations have already made.

But environmentally conscious companies may have another reason to go all-in on Amazon’s cloud, as it turns out that doing so is much more sustainable than operating your own data center.

At least that’s according to a new report from 451 Research Inc., commissioned by AWS, showing that moving on-premises workloads to AWS can lower a company’s carbon footprint by 88% for the median surveyed U.S. enterprise data center, and 72% on average for the top 10% most efficient enterprises surveyed.

Not surprisingly given that the report was commissioned by AWS, it doesn’t address the benefits of other cloud providers, which no doubt also provide significant energy savings over private data centers. Indeed, Google LLC says it has been carbon-neutral since 2007. “In a sense, when you move to Google Cloud, you’re helping save mother Earth,” Amr Awadallah, vice president of developer relations for Google Cloud, recently tweeted.

Nat Sahlstrom, director of AWS Energy Solutions, said AWS’ scale allows it to get much higher resource utilization and energy efficiency than the typical on-premises data center.

“It’s just very challenging for an IT department to get those kinds of efficiencies,” he said in an interview with SiliconANGLE. “There’s this tension between IT departments on how you balance these efficiencies.”

451 Research found that AWS’s infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy efficient than the average enterprise-run data center, thanks primarily to its more efficient server population — which Sahlstrom said accounts for abouot two-thirds of the difference — and high server utilization rates.

Indeed, 451 Research came to the shocking conclusion that the average server utilization rate in corporate data centers is just 18%, which means a significant amount of capacity goes wasted.

AWS also tends to use the most modern, energy-efficient hardware available, 451 Research said.

“AWS has a structural advantage stemming from its organizational design, which aligns data center facility and IT teams, engineering expertise, and custom hardware with the cloud business model that helps drive server utilization much higher than is possible for enterprises,” said Daniel Bizo, principal analyst for datacenter services and infrastructure at 451 Research.

AWS has other advantages too. For example its global infrastructure is also said to be more energy efficient than the average enterprise data center, as it uses “more robust electrical infrastructure and advanced design techniques” to keep its energy use to a minimum.

By contrast, most corporate data centers reported an electrical efficiency of less than 80% because of their reliance on outdated and underused equipment.

Amazon also makes a big deal about using renewable energy sources to power its data centers where possible, further reducing carbon emissions. The company has set a goal of using renewable sources for 80% of its energy needs by 2024 and 100% by 2030.

Bizo said that companies could therefore help themselves to meet their own sustainability commitments by moving more IT workloads to AWS.

“Companies want to be seen as responsible corporate citizens, and many have made sustainability commitments and achieved progress in multiple areas of their operations,” Bizo said. “Yet even with an emphasis on sustainability, running data centers and IT is not a core competency of most enterprises and they lack the resources to make major, comprehensive investments in infrastructure efficiency.”

With reporting from Robert Hof

Photo: Free-Photos/Pixabay

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