Look at nearly any new offering from the largest names in technology — Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others — and you’re likely to find an accompanying environmental and sustainability initiative.

There’s been a growing awareness in recent years about the impact of energy use by corporate data centers, both on the environment and on organizations’ bottom lines. Public cloud hyperscalers have recognized this concern and have responded by optimizing their environments to help organizations meet their spending and sustainability goals.

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As you make decisions about where to place your IT workloads, keep the following considerations in mind.

Economies of Scale

Colocation facilities and public cloud vendors do, of course, require significant energy to power their own environments. However, these providers are typically able to leverage economies of scale far more than even most large enterprises. As a result, their power consumption per unit of compute or storage can be significantly lower.

On top of this, public cloud hyperscalers have their own proprietary architectures and systems to help further reduce energy consumption. According to Amazon, AWS infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy-efficient than the average U.S. enterprise data center.

Ability to Focus on Core Business

Bottom-line benefits aren’t just a result of lower energy bills. They also accrue as a consequence of internal IT employees being able to devote more of their time to achieving core business outcomes and less time managing commodity infrastructure.

Many companies are looking to get out of the data-center business, and instead focus their time and attention on their core offerings and clients. Moving to a consumption-based model benefits this business need and sustainability initiatives.

Monitoring and Measuring

Especially for organizations with emerging sustainability initiatives, the prospect of measuring energy usage and carbon footprint can be daunting. Luckily, a number of “as a service” providers make it simple to track these metrics. For instance: Salesforce, one of the larger Software as a Service providers in the world, now offers a “Sustainability Cloud” product, which gives organizations a full view of their environmental impact and provides data-driven insights to inform improvements.

Disposal and Lifecycle Management

The unfortunate reality is that not all businesses properly dispose of their IT infrastructure once hardware reaches the end of its useful life. Doing so can be complicated and expensive. When businesses utilize “as a service” offerings, they shift this responsibility to their vendors.

Governance

Organizations can’t simply lift and shift their corporate data centers into the public cloud or to a colocation center and expect magic to happen. As with any major IT initiative, management and governance should be core concerns. That means rightsizing the new environment up front, but it also means continuing to manage and monitor the environment over time to prevent unnecessary sprawl. Even “as a service” resources can be deployed inefficiently. But if organizations take the appropriate steps to ensure that resources are well matched to their actual needs, they can prevent ballooning IT bills while also minimizing their carbon footprints.

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