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APAC organisations can reduce carbon footprint with cloud

Energy savings of nearly 80% can be achieved by running business applications in the cloud rather than on-premise infrastructure, study finds

Despite efforts by organisations in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region to improve the energy efficiency of their datacentres, their carbon footprint is still higher than that of hyperscale cloud providers which tend to maximise the use of their servers and adopt more efficient cooling technologies.

That was one of the key findings of an Amazon Web Services (AWS) commissioned study involving more than 500 organisations in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia and India, which revealed that energy savings of nearly 80% can be achieved by running business applications in the cloud rather than in corporate datacentres.

Kelly Morgan, research director for datacentre infrastructure and managed services at 451 Research, the research firm which conducted the study, said that roughly 67% of the savings are accrued from using more efficient servers as cloud operators share and dynamically allocate resources to serve customers’ workloads, resulting in higher server utilisation rates.

“Hyperscale cloud providers have a real incentive to make all of the components in their datacentres work together to be as efficient as possible,” Morgan said during a regional media briefing. “They tend to get the latest generation of servers, often designed specifically for their purposes – the servers are up to 50% more utilised, and the datacentres themselves are more efficient.”

In Singapore, the study found that organisations that move to cloud would see an average workload energy reduction of 76%, which amounts to 1,542 metric tonnes of carbon per megawatt of datacentre capacity per year.

This was despite the fact that Singapore organisations already operate one of the most efficient on-premise datacentres in the region by consolidating more workloads, adopting the latest server technologies, and refreshing their servers more frequently.

On-premise datacentres in Singapore, even though they operate in a tropical climate, have a self-reported power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.89, the study found. By contrast, hyperscale cloud providers tend to have PUE figures of between 1.1 and 1.4.

“We have 1,300 businesses in Singapore with more than 250 employees and if just a quarter of those put one megawatt of their IT load into the cloud, that would save roughly a year’s worth of emissions from over 23,000 Singaporean households,” Morgan said.

Organisations in other countries such as India and Australia with less efficient datacentre facilities would see the biggest reductions in their carbon footprint by moving to the cloud, the study found.

In Australia, for example, businesses and public sector organisations can expect average energy savings of around 80% from moving workloads to cloud infrastructure, a carbon reduction of 3,149 metric tonnes of CO2e per megawatt of datacentre capacity.

In India, where the use of coal to generate electricity remains prevalent, moving the workload equivalent of one megawatt of IT capacity to the cloud would yield a massive carbon reduction of 3,449 metric tonnes per year on average.

And if cloud providers in India were able to provide services powered by 100% renewable energy, a total of 4,235 metric tonnes of CO2 emission could be avoided by running the same workloads in the cloud.

Major cloud providers such as AWS are already doing that. Ken Haig, head of energy policy for Asia-Pacific and Japan at AWS, said apart from maximising datacentre efficiency, AWS is working towards procuring 100% renewable energy for all of its energy needs by 2030, a goal it is set to achieve by 2025.

“Asia-Pacific markets remain among the most challenging in the world for businesses seeking to source 100% renewable energy, but we continue to collaborate with private and public organisations to overcome these barriers and invest in more projects in region,” Haig said.

In Singapore, AWS rolled out a renewable energy initiative earlier this year to tap solar energy for its local operations and contribute clean energy to the country’s power grid.

Other hyperscalers have embarked on similar efforts. In 2018, Microsoft started buying solar energy generated by solar panels installed on rooftops across Singapore through a 20-year deal with solar energy provider Sunseap Group.

Read more about green datacentres in APAC

  • Two Singapore universities have joined hands to develop cooling solutions to reduce the energy consumption and carbon emissions of datacentres located in tropical areas.
  • Space DC opens first of two datacentres with reliability and green features to tap Indonesia’s growing demand for datacentres.
  • Australian datacentre operator NEXTDC will buy carbon offsets to help organisations reduce their carbon footprint through a new colocation service.
  • Sustainability efforts have not kept pace with the growing demand for datacentre and co-location services in Southeast Asia.

Read more on Datacentre energy efficiency and green IT

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