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Report suggests customers moving to AWS could also be reducing their footprint

While there are many benefits to moving to the public cloud, a new report has suggested that switching to AWS could help reduce your carbon footprint by up to 88%, that’s when compared to a traditional US enterprise data centre.

The report from 451 Research noted that thanks to the efficiency of Amazon’s data centres worldwide, customers could benefit from a significant reduction in their carbon footprint. That’s because Amazon designs everything within its data centres to run as efficiently as possible from day one. The company utilises custom-built hardware that pairs performance with efficiency, while everything is optimised for workloads run by AWS customers. Meanwhile, on-premise data centres rely on off-the-shelf hardware, while those opting for colocation facilities don’t have full control over every aspect of the data centre. 

AWS’s infrastructure was found to be 3.6 times more energy efficient than the median of surveyed enterprise data centers, with more than two thirds of this advantage due to a more energy efficient server population and higher server utilisation. While most enterprises reported being pragmatic or aggressive with their workload consolidation practices, 451 Research found that the average server utilisation rate was only about 18%, leaving a significant amount of capacity completely unused. 

Amazon found that even the most efficient organisations could benefit from moving from an on-premise data centre to AWS, with the top 10% most efficient enterprises still able to reduce their carbon emissions by 72% on average.  

“AWS has a structural advantage stemming from its organizational design, which aligns data centre facility and IT teams, engineering expertise, and custom hardware with the cloud business model that helps drive server utilization much higher than is possible for enterprises,” said Daniel Bizo, principal analyst for datacenter services & infrastructure at 451 Research.

Renewable energy also plays a significant role in reducing Amazon’s overall carbon emissions, and the company is set to invest heavily in the future to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels in the future. It already plans to reach 80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% by 2030.

“Companies want to be seen as responsible corporate citizens, and many have made sustainability commitments and achieved progress in multiple areas of their operations. Yet even with an emphasis on sustainability, running data centres and IT is not a core competency of most enterprises and they lack the resources to make major, comprehensive investments in infrastructure efficiency,” Bizo added. 

“AWS is making significant investments in efficiency and renewable energy.”

According to 451 Research’s calculations, by migrating the average 1MW enterprise data centre with 30% utilisation to AWS, a customer could reduce their carbon emissions by 400 to 1000 metric tons per year. 451 Research predicts this carbon benefit to grow in the coming years as AWS continues to take advantage of the latest hardware advancements and further increases its use of renewable energy.

However, AWS is not alone in offering these benefits. Whether customers opt for Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM or one of the other hyperscalers, they’re set to benefit from greater efficiencies than on-premise data centres. Those companies have also set aggressive targets for reducing their reliance on fossil fuels, with Microsoft set to exceed its goal of 70% renewable energy by 2023, while Google is already matchings its energy usage 100% with renewables.

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