For any business with a growth mindset, cloud adoption can no longer be a “maybe”. When you consider how fast technology has moved in recent years, and the pure amount of data that organisations now have to handle, utilising cloud infrastructure to unlock the potential of that data is critical — not to mention makes it easier and faster to access from anywhere in the world.
However, there is more to cloud computing than businesses might initially think. While its face value benefits are more than enough of a reason for companies to jump on board, look a little deeper and the full potential of cloud computing is more far reaching than you might think. In fact, when used correctly, it could help humanity to tackle some of its most difficult challenges — namely sustainability and cybersecurity.
These are two global issues that businesses everywhere are struggling with, due to the current solutions being so wrapped up in political and economic concerns. However, with wider adoption of cloud computing and the consistent exploitation of its positive features, businesses could find a way of tackling these challenges, while also reaping the more obvious benefits that cloud computing has to offer.
The data journey to carbon neutral
It’s taken a while, but big businesses have finally started to realise that they cannot focus on profits alone, and that financial success cannot come at the cost of the planet. The awareness of reducing energy consumption and controlling CO2 emissions has become a core focus for us as individuals, and so companies have started looking at how their business, as well as their products and services, can be more environmentally friendly.
For example, Microsoft is making efforts to be carbon negative by as early as 2030, but it’s also going one step further and aiming to remove all the carbon the company has ever emitted — both directly or from electrical consumption — by 2050.
What might not be immediately clear is how companies can use universally available cloud services to help reach these targets. Acting as the roads and bridges of the online world, these services connect information resources and software on different servers across the world, making them an essential part of global infrastructure.
Whether its robotics process automation (RPA) services or an e-commerce site, the benefits and potential of the cloud are huge for all kinds of businesses. International market research company Gartner predicts that by 2025, more than 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud platforms, up from around 30% in 2021.
Making this move from a locally managed on-premises systems makes for a more efficient use of resources, and with less need for hardware or storage facilities, companies can reduce their infrastructure and energy costs almost immediately. This transition to the cloud is predicted to prevent at least 629 metric tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere between 2021 and 2024, according to market research firm IDC.
But the carbon benefits to cloud services stretch even further than that. Cloud providers themselves are looking into ways they can proactively reduce their own carbon footprint, so the impact can be twofold.
For example, one of the largest cloud providers Amazon Web Services (AWS) has committed to using electricity from 100% renewable sources for its own use by 2025. Google, its biggest competitor, is carbon neutral for operations today, but has a goal to run on carbon-free energy 24/7 at all of its data centres by 2030.
Overall, it’s thought that a company can achieve an 88% reduction in its carbon emissions by simply switching to the cloud from traditional enterprise data systems, making it an easy move for businesses looking for ways to operate more sustainably and efficiently.
Preventing cyber attacks
Cyber attacks remain a constant threat for businesses, and as companies use more and more digital services, so criminals have more data to target than ever before. The CSIS found that new and extremely damaging cyber attacks have been occurring almost daily for the past few years, and it’s expected the frequency of these threats is only likely to increase.
Putting more data into the cloud may seem like a strange move when online attacks are the thing we are trying to protect against, but actually the nature and innovation of cloud computing solutions make these a significantly more secure alternative than storing data on-premises.
For a start, cloud storage providers use dedicated operations centres that have cybersecurity experts monitoring the infrastructure 24/7. This means there is always someone looking out for any cyber threats or suspicious behaviour, and that someone is always available to move quickly should a hacking attempt be detected. This physical presence also ensures the servers’ physical safety is protected too, with heightened security protecting them coming to harm from illegal activity or natural disaster.
Another benefit to storing a business’ data in the cloud is that it is backed up numerous times, and is instantly copied to a number of different servers in independent data centres. This ensures the data is secure should the original data sources be somehow damaged or compromised, and means it is possible to access an exact copy from another location.
Secondly, data in the cloud is backed up several times, and instantly copied to multiple servers in independent data centres. If an organisation’s original data sources were somehow damaged or compromised, it is possible to access an identical copy from another location.
Finally, all three of the largest cloud providers — namely Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud — are not leaving security to chance. They have spent years furthering and bettering their security, responding to threats and improving every time they do. They are committed to security innovation in their market, and have a track record of acquiring or adopting the best practices from the most prominent cybersecurity companies, meaning their users can feel sure that their company’s data is in safe hands.
The digital landscape is evolving quickly, and businesses are being faced with new challenges to navigate every day. The cloud holds the answer to most of them, offering simple solutions that brings both peace of mind and huge benefits — from security and sustainability, to convenience and speed.
Considering the cloud is already doing its part to solve the huge problems of climate change and cybersecurity, its functionality holds enormous promise to contribute further and solve even more of the world’s most pressing issues.
Alex Waldhaus is the Director of Global Modern Workplace Services at Crayon, a customer-centric innovation and IT services company providing guidance on the best solutions for clients’ business needs. With over 10 years experience in technology, cloud, and sales leadership, Alex has worked alongside stakeholders at all different levels, and is known for his ability to facilitate business strategy and growth within the tech space. At Crayon, Alex is responsible for the company's overall Modern Workplace strategy.