Cloud Migration: important for a green future

Cloud Azure Sustainable Manufacturing Net zero IT AI

Est. reading time: 3 minutes
Author: Steph Locke

Cloud providers like Microsoft are making their data centres greener and carbon neutral, whereas your in-house servers and associated resources are burning energy. As well as potentially lowering your compute costs, revitalising your IT infrastructure, reducing risk, the green advantages make a cloud move a must for any manufacturer with sights on a net zero goal.

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Steph Locke

Technologist and consultant with a track record of delivering transformation of businesses into data science and AI companies.


If sustainability is one of your business' priorities then taking into account your IT is vital to helping achieve your goals. Cloud providers are going green and net zero friendly, so your IT infrastructure can do the same. Even better if you work with a cloud provider who is carbon neutral or use an enterprise-grade software service that has been designed from the ground up to be low impact on resources then it’s worth considering this as part of your move.

The net zero goal is often a long-term target, with many manufacturers working towards net zero by 2050. A net zero objective not only reduces your environmental footprint but can help you increase efficiency and drive innovation in the design of products to ensure they are made sustainably without sacrificing performance or quality.

Moving to Azure, Microsoft’s cloud, can lower the carbon emissions associated with your IT by as much as 98% according to independent research organisation WSP. A case study in the report features a global apparel company that reduced its footprint by 70% when it migrated its infrastructure to the cloud in 2016.

Further, Microsoft Azure has been carbon neutral since 2012. Their commitment to the environment also means that by 2025 all energy used by Microsoft services and Azure will be from 100% renewable sources. By adding more purchasing power and demand to such a global player really helps scale the clear business case for energy providers to invest in renewable sources.

We’ve heard a lot about how Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency activities are increasing energy usage. The cryptocurrency consumes an annual rate of 121.36 terawatt-hours (TWh), more than Argentina.1 This shows just how much of an environmental threat computing can be, but it’s also a danger for AI or any intensive computation that will consume energy.

In the background to your move to the cloud, you can also start asking the question of the impact of your specific workloads as to how much impact they have. Adhering to Green Software Engineering Principles, using pre-trained AI solutions, and leveraging low power embedded systems in your products can be great ways to avoid building energy-hungry solutions.

Access to 5G and broadband in out-of-the-way areas might be a blocker for you. However, with hybrid solutions that add some of the power of the cloud to your factory floor, you can blend your approach to maximise the sustainability improvements whilst retaining full service. It’s important to remember with all of these technologies that you should rarely go full all-in in one go and should instead look at what works for your organisation and how you can prioritise potential use cases to add the most value.

To enhance the sustainability of your company while also gaining access to new digital technologies possibilities, add sustainable computing to your Net Zero list.

Further Reading

  1. Bitcoin consumes ‘more electricity than Argentina’ | BBC News

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