Imagine a world where you can access any information, service, or application you need with just a click of a button, without worrying about the environmental impact of your digital activities. This is not a fantasy, but a reality that cloud computing can make possible, and I have witnessed firsthand the power and potential of cloud computing.
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing resources over the internet, such as servers, storage, databases, networks, software, and analytics. It allows users to access and use these resources on demand, without having to own or maintain them. Cloud computing is not only convenient and cost-effective but also environmentally friendly and socially responsible.
Traditional IT systems consume huge amounts of energy and generate massive carbon emissions, contributing to climate change and threatening our well-being. According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), data centres and data transmission networks accounted for about 1% of global electricity demand in 2019, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of Japan. Moreover, the global IT sector emitted about 730 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2019, more than the annual emissions of Germany.
Cloud computing can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by up to 98%, compared to traditional IT systems. This is because cloud providers can optimise the use of their resources by sharing them among multiple users, and by using advanced technologies such as virtualisation, artificial intelligence, and renewable energy. A study by Microsoft found that moving 100% of its IT infrastructure to the cloud reduced its carbon footprint by 93%. Another study by Accenture estimated that migrating to the public cloud could save up to 59 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to taking 22 million cars off the road.
Cloud computing can also enable circular operations and sustainable products and services, by facilitating the reuse, recovery, and recycling of materials and resources. For example, cloud-based platforms can help businesses track and manage their waste streams or connect them with other businesses that can use their excess materials or by-products. A case in point is Rubicon Global, a cloud-based waste management company that connects waste generators with waste hauliers and recyclers, reducing landfill waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Cloud computing can also increase supply chain sustainability, by improving transparency, efficiency, and collaboration among stakeholders. For example, cloud-based solutions can help farmers monitor and improve their crop yields, or help retailers reduce food waste and carbon footprint. A notable example is FarmBeats, a cloud-based platform that uses sensors, drones, and artificial intelligence to provide farmers with data-driven insights on soil health, water usage, and crop quality.
However, cloud computing is not without challenges or risks. Some of the main concerns are data security, privacy, and governance. How can we ensure that our data is protected from unauthorised access or misuse? How can we control who has access to our data and how they use it? How can we comply with different laws and regulations across different countries and regions? These are valid questions that need to be addressed with proper measures and regulations. Cloud providers need to adhere to high standards of security and privacy, such as encryption, authentication, and auditing. Users need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities when using cloud services, such as choosing reputable providers, reading the terms and conditions carefully, and managing their data wisely. Governments need to establish clear and consistent policies and frameworks that support the development and adoption of cloud computing while ensuring its ethical and legal use.
At Quomodo Systems Africa, we take data security, privacy, and governance very seriously. We follow best practices and industry standards to protect our customers’ data and comply with relevant laws and regulations. We also educate our customers on how to use cloud services safely and responsibly. We believe that trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, and we strive to earn it every day.
Cloud computing is not a silver bullet that can solve all our problems. It is a tool that can help us achieve a more sustainable and resilient future for humanity. But it is up to us how we use it. We need to embrace cloud computing as a way to enhance our lives and protect our planet. We need to support policies and initiatives that promote cloud computing as a key driver of green growth and social innovation. We need to adopt cloud computing in our personal or professional lives, whenever possible and appropriate. By doing so, we can make a difference for ourselves and for generations to come.
Oluwole Asalu, a cloud computing expert, discusses its environmental benefits and writes from Lagos, Nigeria.