FinOps Blog
February 2021

Is the Public Cloud Green?

On the occasion of the last Meetup FinOps, Tristan Labaume, president of the AGIT (l’Alliance Green IT) and founder of Greenvision, gathered us around an IT hot topic: «Is the Public Cloud Green?». This talk about the Public Cloud sustainability enabled the Meetup FinOps community to better understand the environmental and societal issues involved.

What is the AGIT and Greenvision?

The AGIT, founded in 2011, is the first European association that addresses the Green IT theme. The AGIT brings together more than 60 companies around eco-responsible digital subject. The association aims to promote good practices and fight against greenwashing.

Greenvision, founded in 2009, is a company that supports its customers in the implementation of energetic efficiency programs for IT equipment.

WeDoGreenIT is the latest event organized by the AGIT that brought together engaged stakeholders around the Green IT theme. At this event, Tristan Labaume hosted a round table on the Green IT situation in France, in the presence of Corinne Lepage, a French politician engaged in the environmental protection. This discussion tackled the emerging good practices of the unprecedented situation (pandemic) that we are currently experiencing.

You can find this entire conference in this Youtube video.

Perceptions about the cloud

In terms of Green IT, Tristan recalls in preamble the main ecological benefits generally associated with Public Cloud:

  1. It allows the reduction of devices in companies.
  2. It avoids unnecessary copies and storage.
  3. It makes it possible to pool the specific needs of power.
  4. It makes it possible to control and optimize its consumption.
  5. It is socially beneficial.

But is it the Cloud reality?

For Tristan, some of these beliefs are true, some are mitigated and need to be analyzed in retrospectively, and others are simply wrong.

Our society today is very dependent on technology. This data massification greatly increases the Cloud demand, which leads to high oversized infrastructures because the level of resilience and redundancy must be high. As a result, server usage is not optimized in anticipation of ever-increasing demand.

Moreover, the infinite Cloud illusion encourages unbridled use of IT, which leads to constant data duplication and non-optimized storage.

The IT equipment used for the Cloud generates significant environmental and societal impacts during their manufacture, use, and end-of-life. It should be pointed out that the acquisition of hardware used by cloud providers is the phase with the strongest environmental impact: the acquisition phase emits 80 times more greenhouse gas emissions than during its first year of use.

At a company level, the Cloud enables a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The workstations dematerialisation and the computer park rationalization combined with management and choice of equipment with high energy efficiency makes it possible to sustainably reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, the Cloud makes it possible to occasionally support higher loads and therefore to have energy expenses adapted to the use.

The potential of the Cloud

The Cloud is an inevitable technology, indeed there is today an explosion of data and volumes uses. We must not try to avoid this technology, on the contrary, we must learn to master it by identifying axes of improvement, steering and follow-up.

In conclusion, Tristan recommends these advices to help us have an informed and reasonable use of the Cloud:

  1. Dimension properly its need to optimize its consumption.
  2. Choose a transparent Cloud provider; one with a modular datacenter and that ideally respects the recommendations of the Code of Conduct for Datacenter (Be cautious about Greenwashing!).
  3. Increase awareness internally for users; and thus reduce its consumption.

You can find the entire speech of Tristan Labaume as well as the previous Meetup on the Youtube channel FinOps.World.

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