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Re:Invent the corporate playbook: working towards a digitally sustainable future

Dobromir Todorov, CEO and Chief Cloud Officer at HeleCloud 

The pandemic drastically accelerated businesses’ need for digital transformation. It forced many executives to rethink and digitalise fundamental aspects of their business in order to improve their operations and continue to achieve growth. While enhancing operations to achieve growth may have been the primary driver for digital transformation initiatives during the last two years, business leaders are now starting to look at digital transformation as a means of becoming more sustainable. 

In the wake of COP26, business leaders will need to understand that climate change is a fundamental risk management problem. A problem that requires thoughtful management, prudent investment, and technological and corporate innovation.   

This was perhaps the most conclusive takeaway from AWS re:Invent 2021, where many keynotes focused on how Cloud solutions can help enhance the efficiency and speed of sustainability strategies. Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced it is ramping up its sustainability efforts by adding a new Sustainability Pillar to the AWS Well-Architected Framework and working on a customer carbon footprint tool as two key components of a push to make sustainability a core consideration in business planning and budgets. As an AWS Managed Service Provider (MSP), we believe we play a vital role in facilitating the means and solutions to help our customers address their organisational sustainability efforts.   

A sixth sense: responding to global demand  

With an increased global demand for corporate sustainability efforts, AWS used re:Invent 2021 to acknowledge and respond to the sustainability agenda. The new Sustainability Pillar will help customers using AWS platforms to learn, measure, and improve their workloads using environmental best practices for Cloud computing. Specifically, this pillar helps our customers develop a better understanding of the state of their workloads and ecological impact.   

The sustainability of the Cloud allows AWS customers to reduce associated energy usage by nearly 80% concerning a typical on-premises deployment. This is possible thanks to the much higher server utilisation, power and cooling efficiency, custom data centre design, and continued progress on the path to powering AWS operations, with the aim using 100% renewable energy by 2025.  

The carbon reduction opportunity of moving to Cloud   

When our customers migrate to the Cloud from on-premises infrastructures, they reduce carbon emissions by 88% because our data centres can offer environmental economies of scale. Organisations tend to use 77% fewer servers, 84% less power, and tap into a 28% cleaner mix of solar and wind power in the Cloud versus their own data centres. Climate change and its effects direct more attention to resource efficiency as a key part of sustainability responsibility, which is of growing importance in the wider corporate world.      

‘Green Cloud’ is not a new concept, but customers, regulators, and investors are taking notice of the impact of hyper-scale computing can have on CO2 emissions, and it is factoring into buying decisions. Therefore, ‘Green Cloud ‘can help businesses meet the regulatory, financial and ethical requirements set by investors and customers; saving them up to a billion dollars and significantly reducing their carbon emissions. 

To go green or not to go green? Moving to Cloud shouldn’t even be a question.    

As business leaders look to the future, the only safe and sustainable way to ensure minimal environmental impact alongside the development of Cloud computing is to vocalise and establish ESG requirements. Ultimately, Cloud computing is more energy-efficient than any other alternative and facilitates environmentally beneficial services and economic growth.    

It’s simple – the more efficient Cloud usage is, the less an organisation will spend. By reducing unnecessary dependencies that consume extra storage or computer resources, business leaders can optimise automation and coding to cut process time and increase efficiency. This helps reduce costs and reduce energy usage. It’s a win-win situation.   

Moreover, it is estimated that around 70% of employees said they were more likely to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda, and the higher the employee retention rate. Over the last decade, many employees in the tech sector have been fighting for greater action from their companies on climate change. Ultimately, sustainability is a matter of ethics that, in due course, will impact economics.   

The world is at a turning point and the decisions we make today will be felt by the generations to come. All industries are in a moment of reckoning regarding sustainability. We believe a sustainable, prosperous future is well within our collective reach. Together with our workforce, AWS, and of course our customers, we can use Cloud solutions to make an impact that really matters. Let’s treat sustainability as a business opportunity to rewrite the corporate playbook and facilitate a digitally sustainable world.