A recent CloudBolt survey on IT sustainability finds that sustainability is no longer just a buzzword — the market is demanding real change, and it appears that environmental concerns finally are influencing large IT investments. For example, 67% say that a cloud provider’s sustainability initiatives are important in deciding whether to do business with them. A significant portion of organizations are even willing to pay a premium to support green initiatives!
Below, I’ll review the report to find its major takeaways. We’ll see how sustainability is directing real action in cloud IT and briefly compare how the market perceives current green initiatives among three top cloud providers: AWS, GCP and Azure.
Sustainability Gains Real-World Traction
In June and July 2021, CloudBolt polled 256 global CxOs and tech leaders on its Pulse platform, and found that 76% of respondents now consider climate change an existential threat. Not only are IT purchasers factoring compute and cost, but a sustainability conscience is now influencing executives to direct sweeping change. In fact, 79% of respondents indicate their IT departments are expected to help their companies achieve specific sustainability initiatives driven by the board of directors of the C-suite.
Interestingly, other studies found that a sustainability commitment results in tangible business outcomes. For instance, 88% of the research conducted by Oxford University and Arabesque showed that solid environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices result in better operational performance of firms and higher profits. This study also noted that 80% of the time, a company’s stock price is positively influenced by sustainability practices.
Climate Conscience Guides Cloud Choices
Most organizations now consider a cloud vendor’s sustainability initiatives when choosing whether to do business with that provider. A full 78% of respondents agree that the public/private cloud choices they make can materially affect the environment for better or worse. New environmental cloud commitments not only attempt to minimize carbon emissions from their data centers but factor in ecological ramifications and aim to erase companies’ historical carbon footprints, as well.
Cloud consumers also want to contribute to addressing these green initiatives. An impressive 79% of respondents indicate that they will pay a premium to work with vendors who incorporate sustainability into their business. And 41% of companies are willing to pay a premium of 11 % to 15% of their current bills. This shows that sustainability is now a vital factor within the marketplace, and companies are willing to pay the price to increase their own environmental standing.
Though this commitment is undoubtedly growing, the report did find that operational requirements such as security, cost and agility, still rank significantly higher than sustainability when comparing cloud providers. Though IT professionals recognize climate change as an existential threat, they still have day jobs and must keep operations moving.
AWS: King of Green Clouds
Slightly more than half (51%) of respondents agree that the industry-wide green energy commitment is real and growing among all cloud providers. However, when comparing the top three—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure and Google, AWS appears to be emerging as an IT sustainability leader; 41% of respondents perceived AWS as doing the most to address green initiatives.
AWS is on track to power its entire operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025. With their solar plant investment in April 2021, Amazon became the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in Europe. Around the globe, AWS has invested in a combination of on-site solar, solar farms and wind farms to power their data centers and Whole Foods divisions.
To their credit, both Microsoft and Google also committed to climate pledges that affect their cloud footprint. Azure supports a similar initiative to reach 100% renewable energy by 2025, in addition to further investments to improve water, waste disposal and surrounding local ecosystems. Google Cloud’s sustainability pledge is less ambitious; promising 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Not only does AWS appear to be doing the most to address its environmental impact, it also retains the most market traction as a cloud leader. The majority of respondents (62%) said that AWS is winning the cloud wars while only 31% said Azure and just 7% said GCP.
It is heartening to see that ESG standards are having a measurable impact on a company’s cloud allegiances. The market now demands real change and is willing to pay the price for more ethical and sustainable cloud hosting.
But choosing a cloud provider is only one aspect of reducing IT’s impact. As I’ve covered before, there are many ways IT can curb its climate impact. Such actions include optimizing overall infrastructure, shuttering zombie VMs, avoiding over-provisioning resources, increasing performance visibility, refactoring code and other measures. What’s great is that most of these initiatives have the added benefit of reducing cost to the business.
The CloudBolt Industry Insights Report, The Truth About IT Sustainability: Paying More Green to Get More Green, surveyed 256 IT leaders on their perception of cloud sustainability. For additional insights, you can pick up a copy here.