How Green is Your Cloud? Eco-Friendly Solutions for Users and Providers

Paul Korzeniowski · Jan 24, 2024 · 7 minute read

As every IT professional knows, computer technology is a massive consumer of energy. Shifting to a cloud platform is one way for companies to lower their electricity bill. Instead of housing, powering, and cooling your own physical hardware (driving your own car to work), use a cloud services provider that provisions more efficiently (get on the bus!). 

Utilizing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) vendors has become the trend as companies steer clear of the traditional method of purchasing and managing their own IT equipment. With this approach, you only utilize (and pay for) the resources you actually need. The beauty of the cloud is that it can easily adjust to match your usage. No more computers just idly sitting around. 

The momentum is growing, with 60% of business leaders using or planning to use cloud to enhance environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting and 59% using or planning to use cloud to improve their ESG strategies, according to PwC’s US Cloud Business Survey

Now that so many companies rely on cloud providers, the lion’s share of energy use and emissions is shifting. Data centers are now responsible for nearly 1% of energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions annually, reports the International Energy Association. How are cloud service providers reducing their own carbon footprint? And what can you do to implement eco-friendly practices within your own cloud usage? 

Cloud Leads the Way in Sustainable Technology 

Pre-cloud, companies generally had to build and maintain their own data centers. This system did not provide them with much scalability, and wasn’t particularly energy efficient. Because IT systems were designed to accommodate maximum usage periods, the majority of their server resources were often dramatically underutilized. As a result, organizations consumed power unnecessarily. 

Virtualization technology is how data centers save energy. Multiple software-defined virtual machines (in many cases, hundreds or even thousands) can run on a single system. This method increases server utilization rates, reducing the firm’s environmental footprint.

Not only has server software become more efficient, but component technology, like microprocessors and storage systems, has also improved significantly. Consequently, systems fit into smaller and smaller form factors. A row of hundreds or thousands of physical servers used to fill up a room. Now, those devices have shrunk down to boards that slide into computer racks. The smaller form factors create smaller physical and environmental footprints.

Wiring and power systems also have become tinier and more efficient. Previously, each system needed its own power source. Now, one uninterruptible power supply (UPS) supports multiple racks with hundreds of systems.  

Cloud-First Design

When diving into cloud adoption, organizations frequently find their current applications lacking. Those old-school legacy systems, built on yesterday’s tech, are inefficient in how users access services. They rely too much on manual input for information processing, and use outdated methods for collecting and storing data. 

Today’s cloud has a better design. Digital technology enables users to enter information from their smartphones. This streamlines information entry, lowering manual requirements and creating a more eco-friendly application infrastructure. Similarly, cloud services enable users to access computing resources and data from anywhere in the world. This feature reduces the need for dispersed local infrastructure. Since companies deploy fewer systems, they require less energy and release fewer greenhouse gases.

Air Conditioning and Heat Recovery Improvements

Temperature is a key data center metric. If the data center is too warm, systems can overheat and short circuit. The average data center generates a significant amount of heat as information is processed. Data center operators are adopting different cooling strategies. Some systems can capture and re-channel the heat generated, minimizing the strain on HVAC systems and reducing the amount of electricity needed. Another innovative solution was implemented by the managers of Kamatera’s data centers. They increased the operating temperature ranges in the data centers themselves. This thermostat adjustment will reduce the need for excessive cooling systems, saving money while still maintaining optimal conditions for mission-critical digital infrastructure.

Reduced Idle Time and Physical Waste 

Modern businesses operate in a dynamic environment where supply and demand can rapidly fluctuate. Cloud-native applications are designed to be elastic and scalable, often with a few mouse clicks. This reduces the need for idle infrastructure and minimizes energy consumption during low-demand periods.

Historically, hardware had limited lifecycles, often only a few years. Cloud computing reduces electronic waste by extending the life of hardware through virtualization and more efficient resource allocation. Additionally, cloud providers developed techniques, such as recycling components, to manage hardware upgrades and replacements in an environmentally responsible way. This allows them to prolong the lifespan of IT equipment through refurbishment, repair, and upgrades.

Support for Sustainability Tools

As companies embrace greener data centers, they rely on metrics to tell them if they are meeting corporate sustainability goals. New tools can help measure a company’s overall sustainability performance, above and beyond power consumption. They are evaluated on where they purchase power, average employee commute times, and waste disposal methods. The solutions help companies standardize business procedures and increase environmental policy transparency.

How You Can Reduce Your Cloud Carbon Footprint

Here are some steps that cloud users can take to contribute to a more sustainable future:

  1. Optimize resource usage: There are various tools that help users identify areas where they can adjust cloud usage. This can also be achieved through scaling, which automatically adjusts the number of resources provisioned to a server based on demand.
  2. Choose wisely: Cloud users should choose a cloud provider that uses renewable energy. Kamatera’s data centers are on track to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030. 
  3. Right-size your data: Storing substantial amounts of data in the cloud can consume a lot of energy. Users can lessen their carbon footprint by cutting down on data storage.
  4. Consider the hardware: Cloud users should choose providers that use energy-efficient processors and servers. Kamateras’ fully redundant system uses SSD-accelerated disk drives, for the most reliable performance as well as the most efficient.

Transitioning your current IT infrastructure to the cloud to reduce your energy costs shouldn’t be a hasty lift-and-shift endeavor. Instead, initiate the process from scratch and re-engineer your applications to fully leverage the tools and capabilities the cloud provides. This approach allows you to embrace a truly cloud-native environment, resulting in increased efficiencies, enhanced services for your users, and a more sustainable utilization of technology overall.

What Kamatera is Doing for the Planet

The fastest cloud on the planet might also be the greenest cloud on the planet. Kamatera’s green data centers are managed with the following key priorities to reduce their carbon footprint: 


As the demand for cloud services continues to grow, the responsibility of cloud providers to operate sustainably becomes more crucial than ever. Cloud enables companies to address that need because of its modern, efficient design. Cloud providers are not just adapting to the future; they are actively shaping it into a more sustainable and eco-friendly landscape.

Paul Korzeniowski
Paul Korzeniowski

Paul Korzeniowski is a B2B content producer, market analyst and leading voice in the high tech community. He has dissected technology and business issues for more than two decades. Paul served on the staffs of Computerworld, Network World, and Internet Week. He has written for leading suppliers like Microsoft, Intel, and VMware, and startups like Bedrock Systems and Launchables. His work has appeared in numerous business publications, including Fortune, LinkedIn, Entrepreneur, Investors Business Daily, and InformationWeek.