Cloud and Energy Consumption

Post • 4 min read

It Can’t Just Be About Migration: Why Infrastructure Should Matter to the Energy-conscious Cloud User

Businesses and citizens alike are facing a rise in energy costs due to global market and political events. To a greater extent than ever, from mid-2022 onwards, reducing energy costs and increasing energy savings have become important consumer and business concerns. 

Beyond cost, we are no longer able to ignore the fact that power outages may indeed happen more frequently for a variety of reasons. This is in addition to expected shortages of critical supplies such as gas to heat the office or factory, and diesel to power the generators used to uphold data centre operations.

Recently at Nordcloud we have been asking ourselves: What should businesses be doing in this situation? And how can we help them? Both energy costs and energy supply uncertainty are posing severe threats to businesses’ operations and cost bases. Could public cloud be part of the solution here? We think the answer is a clear yes. 

We do not claim that cloud is the sole answer; in fact, we never do. But, as always, when we speak up about a problem, we have a thing or two to say about how cloud technology could help contribute to a solution.

Make Redundancy a Norm

In many ways, the idea of moving to a public cloud platform will solve issues posed by the energy crisis for your business. Not the least of which is the uncertainty of your own physical infrastructure being robust enough, and subject to sufficient supplies in case of a larger electricity outage. Relying on the massive computing infrastructures typically housed in highly redundant data centre facilities that form the backbone of cloud is wise. You benefit from built-in physical infrastructure that was developed by the world's best engineers, serving thousands of companies around the globe. 

Having a redundancy solution built into your every day IT operations on all levels is essential. To mention just two possible steps to take with cloud, we have:

1. Simple failover options from local data centres into a cloud platform, as part of a Disaster Recovery plan

2. Geo-redundant cloud native setups

Public cloud platforms have unrivaled capacity and functionality to help you implement whichever case and redundancy solution you choose.

Our advice to clients has always been to build for high availability. We’re just extending the rationale a bit further here by flagging the risk of power outages in one country or site. Even small geographical redundancy efforts will help avoid added risks.

Join the Carbon Footprint Winners Club

Next to functional benefits, consider the impact a move to the cloud will have on your carbon footprint. We’ve been working with organisations that go above and beyond to select the most carbon effective sites (= regions) among the ones offered by AWS. The same scenario could be imagined with the services offered by Azure and GCP from Northern European regions, for example. 

We’re not the first to present cloud as a piece of the sustainability puzzle. There are whole conferences, in-house departments in companies and research studies dedicated to uncovering the cloud’s green potential. We think there is but one last thought to be taken before considering yourself savvy: the conversation is often focused on migration. Migration isn’t the end of the journey, it's the start. Moving away from your own data centre will be a positive step towards lower energy usage as a company overall, but it’s easy to overlook the energy (and cost) saving opportunities that exist once you’re there.

Turn Towards GreenOps

So, what do you do once you’re already in the cloud to continue saving energy - and money? You go cloud native. Ahead-of-the-curve architecture and automation give you infrastructure and processes that are designed for scalability and efficiency. This inherently sets you up to use only what you need and reduce waste, for instance through excessive usage of the cloud infrastructure that results in needless energy usage. 

Being in the cloud doesn’t mean that all of a sudden a server estate is running in an energy-conscious way. It runs - but you make it energy-conscious. 

Lots of companies actually struggle when it comes to energy consumption visibility. We have come across this issue with clients more and more frequently.

Just like with FinOps, you start with transparency and spot your high-end consumers of cloud capacities. This offers a great set of targets for modernising applications towards a cloud native pattern, reducing their footprint to the bare minimum. 

A cloud native approach combined with automation is needed to make sure you’re running your cloud in an intentionally energy efficient way – every day. We offer tools to clients similar to the ones provided by AWS, Azure and GCP, to do this in the most efficient way. 

These tools help users build energy-conscious priorities into their cloud infrastructure modernisation programmes. It is possible through technology for companies to get a sharply-rendered picture of what is consuming the most power. Increasingly, the question isn’t going to be whether companies figure this out. It’s a matter of when. 

Most companies’ on premise data centres – and even their cloud estates, right now – come with many unknowns. With the right tools at hand, however, end-to-end transparency is what will enable companies to drive sustainability through modernisation, once they are on the cloud. 

I’m not sure if there’s ever been a more relevant time to shine a light on the more obscure drivers of your company’s energy consumption.

Get in Touch.

Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.

Ilja Summala
Ilja’s passion and tech knowledge help customers transform how they manage infrastructure and develop apps in cloud.
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Group CTO