Can the Cloud save the planet? Here at CloudFest, we’re not shy about asking big questions – and this might be the biggest question of the moment. Day 2 of CloudFest 2022 is all about framing and exploring The Sustainable Cloud and planning a greener future for the technology that connects the world.
The Cloud has grown tenfold in the last decade, but has so far managed to avoid scaling its energy usage in the same direction. As the global digitization trend was fast-tracked by the pandemic, we may be reaching the limits of how sustainably the Cloud can operate without rethinking the industry’s core assumptions. Between more traditional uses of distributed computing and the rise of blockchain-based investment and services, a rapidly-growing constellation of machines must be powered and cooled. The companies that figure out how to feed those machines in a sustainable way will find themselves in a position of advantage, especially when it comes to attracting environmentally-conscious customers, employees and partners.
People, Planet, and Profit – Realigned Priorities for New Generations
The Triple Bottom Line (people, planet, profit) isn’t just for TED talks anymore: this model for measuring business success has been embraced around the world.
Remember, Millennials are now in their thirties and early forties; and Gen Z’s oldest have reached their mid-twenties. There’s no real argument remaining that climate change is a human-made problem, and that it will require human action to mitigate and repair. With governments slow to act, individual companies – or, better yet, industry alliances – must figure out what they can do on their own to change the course of Earth’s future. No longer limited to the classroom, the idea that business goals should contain social and environmental metrics is becoming more and more entrenched in the boardroom.
People: Meeting the New Values System
The adults of Gen Z are more than twice as likely to engage with the topic of climate change on social media as Boomers, and a Pew Research poll found that 37% of Gen Z respondents considered tackling climate change to be their top priority. And millennial and Gen Z respondents were more likely to take action against climate change besides voting than any other generation. Even in the highly-contentious political climate of the United States, Millennials and Gen Z Republicans are more likely than their parents to accept climate change as a human-caused phenomenon. Oh, and Millennials are now America’s largest generation.
Millennials and Gen Z largely agree that governments and private companies are not pulling their weight in the climate emergency. (We’re confident that this sentiment is echoed in the CloudFest community as well.) In making decisions from a place of purpose, these generations see what they buy and where they work as an extension of themselves to a greater degree than previous cohorts. These are the current and future customers, employees, managers who will shape the Cloud marketplace – and among them are founders whose moves will change the game in ways we don’t yet know.
Planet: Slowing the Burn
Cloud-based and hyperscale data centers have eclipsed onsite server arrays in terms of global use, and there’s no reason to believe that the trend won’t continue.
Global internet traffic surged by as much as 40% during 2020: all those Zoom happy hours, work-from-home setups, and side-hustle plays really added up. The number of people using the internet worldwide has increased by 17% since 2019, and that means increased demand for data access (electricity) and internet-connected devices (manufacturing, which could include conflict minerals).
Throw in electricity-hungry computational trends such as cryptocurrency and NFTs, and it’s clear that the Cloud needs to decouple itself from upward trends in energy and resource consumption as soon as possible.
Profit: Green in More Ways Than One
The Cloud isn’t just sitting still as the world changes: it’s already reinventing how it consumes energy, as well as how it up from bare metal. The Global Green Data Center Market size is expected to reach US$142.8 billion by 2026, growing at 19.7% CAGR during the forecast period of 2020-2026.
This is the convergence point in the savvy Cloud Service provider’s business plan: in meeting the needs of emerging generations, you build strong partnerships and customer bases while also directly impacting the health of the planet we must share. Here is a sense of just how quickly the market for a sustainable Cloud is growing: Fortune Business Insight, in its report titled “Green Technology and Sustainability Market, 2021-2028“, notes that the market stood at US$9.57 billion in 2020. It is expected to reach US$41.62 billion by 2028, with a massive CAGR of 20.3% between 2021 and 2028.
At CloudFest, we’ll examine the technological, operational, and social innovations that are helping us to open the choke points that could otherwise slow the continuing growth and development of the Cloud. Join us to explore how to embrace more sustainable ways of operating that won’t hurt – and might even help – your cost structure.
Actionable Insights from Green Cloud Leaders
The Sustainable Cloud will focus on creative and effective strategies to green your CSP operations, straight from the leaders who are blazing the trail. For example (and you can consider this a stealth agenda announcement), in “The Regenerative Cloud”, Wolfgang Oels, COO of Ecosia, will make the case from the business and planetary perspectives for shifting our mindsets and strategies from “carbon neutral” to “climate positive”, from sustainable to regenerative. Such a shift can lead to extraordinarily high rewards, in more ways than one.
So, can the Cloud save that planet?
That will be up to you as a leader and innovator in the internet infrastructure space. As Marshall McLuhan said,
“There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.”
So get in the captain’s seat and set a course for a sustainable planet at CloudFest 2022. Running March 22-24, CloudFest 2022 takes over Europa-Park in Germany to connect the human beings who make the internet work. Find out more at www.cloudfest.com and use this code – CFgreen22 – to register for Free or just click this Link.