From the Closet to the Cloud: Cloud-based IT better for business, environment

by Katie Horvath

Until the advent of cloud computing, most businesses had a server closet to house computer equipment on site. But a server closet is an inefficient use of company resources.

In order to operate IT infrastructure, you need to acquire, maintain and provide the right environment for machines to compute and process data, perform security monitoring and threat response, store data and power software. There are costs to upgrading equipment and when disposing of old equipment at the end of life.

Many businesses have learned that by switching from on-premises IT infrastructure to the cloud, infrastructure has better scalability, more frequent technology upgrades without capital expense and lower operational costs. In addition, the cloud has an eco-friendly impact on the environment.

Here’s how the cloud helps.

Cloud Reduces Electricity Consumption

Typically, on-premises servers need uninterrupted power supplies and extra HVAC for proper ventilation and cooling to keep them operational. They require a lot of electricity. If every business maintains its own servers, the inefficiencies aggregate to electrical over-consumption and a lot of waste.

Public cloud data centers are typically located closer to power generation facilities, which prevents energy transmission loss over long distances. Since they are not tied to the location of your business, they may be located where renewable energy is available. Cloud computing data centers also use less energy to provide back-up power and cooling due to superior hardware setup.

Cloud data centers are designed at scale and built for efficient energy use to achieve optimal utilization and temperature, typically achieving 84% in energy use reduction. It is just plain more energy-efficient to have a single cloud data center maintain the power and temperature conditions needed for servers, instead of having every business in town doing this in separate facilities.

Moving basic software programs, such as email, CRMs, ERPs, document applications and accounting systems to the cloud provides cost savings on your electric bill. This amounts to 85% less electricity needed to run these applications (according to Google.)

Moving computing infrastructure and IT operations to the cloud also provides cost savings on your electric bill. An Accenture study revealed that the cloud cuts energy consumption by 30-60% for large companies, 60-90% for mid-sized companies and more than 90% for small businesses.

Cloud Utilization Decreases Carbon Footprint

Most companies purchase equipment to deal with anticipated server usage spikes. When a spike is not happening, it remains unused. Low utilization creates waste, especially when adding up the impact of each business having separate idle equipment.

The cloud consolidates machine use for greater efficiency. Servers operate at higher utilization rates. Public cloud servers are typically two to four times more efficient than traditional data centers due to higher utilization. Typically, with cloud technology 77% fewer servers are used, resulting in an 88% lower carbon footprint than onsite data centers. By using the Aunalytics cloud for computing, SMBs can lessen per-user carbon footprint by up to 90%.

Cloud Encourages Paperless Operations

Cloud applications like Microsoft 365, Google Docs, DocuSign, SharePoint and Dropbox are used to create and store documents. Instead of exhausting reams of paper and printer ink, resulting in recycle bins piled with discarded papers and storage cabinets being purchased to keep files, operations go paperless. Gone are the days of having to print multiple copies of a document for a team to share it.

Functional team applications are now cloud-hosted too, such as accounting programs like QuickBooks, reducing the need for printed ledgers, invoices, POs and spreadsheets. Video streaming replaces collections of DVDs. By reducing the number and cost of physical resources used, cloud reduces the amount of waste.

Cloud Provides the Latest Technologies

How many businesses can you think of that are operating on old versions of computing systems because of the cost of an upgrade? The high cost of hardware replacement often results in companies operating on older, slower, less effective systems in order to defer an upgrade. This impacts operations.

Due to the higher utilization of cloud centers, data center hardware is upgraded more frequently. Cloud providers are incentivized because newer technologies often provide added energy efficiencies and cost savings at scale that outweigh the cost of the upgrade. By moving to the cloud, you get newer technology and regular upgrades without capital expense.

Early fears about data security in the cloud have given way to the realization that public cloud providers are best equipped to stay up to date on the latest and greatest security infrastructure, threat awareness, monitoring and proactive measures to prevent attacks.

Most businesses hosting their own servers do not keep pace with continuous improvements to security. After all, data and systems security is not the main business of most companies – but it is the main business of the cloud providers. Data is actually more secure in a cloud center than in your server closet. This is a situation where it is better to have the experts protect your data, than trying to do it part-time while you are running your main business.

Cloud Powered Our Pandemic Economy

The ability of businesses to carry on operations with remote work relies upon cloud technology. Cloud applications allow your team to access company data, communications platforms and software applications from home. Without cloud technology, our economy would have come to a screaming halt in many ways worse than we experienced.

Cloud technology enables remote work and lowers environmental impact and operational costs of stocking office coffee stations and supply closets, furnishing and heating large facility footprints and providing parking.

We saw nature make a global comeback during the reduced transportation days of the pandemic. We viewed smog disappearing in real time with fewer people commuting. We learned that the cloud is more effective in reducing auto emissions than the carpool lane.

Accelerated digital transformation prompted by the pandemic is here to stay. As we form new cloud-enabled strategies for hybrid work schedules of remote time and office time in condensed spaces to continue operational cost savings, this is good for our environment.

Katie Horvath is Chief Marketing Officer at Aunalytics, Inc.

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