Most everyone at this point has heard of cloud services in some capacity—whether it’s the “cloud” for your iPhone pictures or explaining to your grandmother why your Google Doc file doesn’t show up on “saved files” on your desktop.
In this article, we’ll cover what cloud services are, the different types that exist, and how the environmental impacts (which are pretty significant) can be reduced.
What are cloud services?
Cloud services (also known as cloud computing), while broad in application of the definition, applies to technology services and functionalities that occur over the internet. These services and functionalities are managed and hosted by remove data centers and typically involve a pay-as-you-go payment subscription structure. One thing they’re most popular for doing? Eliminating the need for large-scale upfront investments in technology. With the on-demand nature of the applications, companies can get access to the tools and resources they need ASAP.
What are examples of the different types of cloud services?
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Virtualized computing resources over the internet (i.e., renting storage).
Examples: Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Platform as a Service (PaaS): Platform and environment for developers to build, deploy, and manage applications; a special focus is placed on just coding.
Examples: Heroku and Microsoft Azure App Service
Software as a Service (SaaS): Subscription-based software applications over the internet. No local installation needed.
Examples: Microsoft 365, Salesforce, Dropbox, and EasyVista
What are the benefits of cloud services?
For some companies, the most difficult part of switching to cloud computing is also one of the biggest benefits, accessibility. Given the rise of remote work and the nature of a more global economy, where companies do business transactions across the globe, workers need the ability to access data, without being in the same building as the data—exactly what cloud services provide.
Additional benefits of cloud services include:
What are the environmental impacts of cloud services?
As with most things, there are positive and negative implications of using cloud services. As for the positive end, cloud services enable resource sharing (allowing multiple organizations to share the same infrastructure), which reduces energy consumption and results in a smaller carbon footprint. With the ever-expanding quest for knowledge and better technology, now, more than ever, technology changes at the snap of fingers. Because of this, hardware and technology are discarded faster—contributing to the increased generation of electronic waste production (E-Waste). Additionally, data centers are energy and resource intensive. Not only do they require a significant amount of power and cool servers, but the sheer costs of maintenance alone is a huge lift.
4 strategies for reducing the environmental strain of cloud services
- Green Data Centers – As more companies transition to using cloud providers, rather than hosting and managing their own data, cloud service providers can place an emphasis on utilizing renewable energy and energy-efficient resources at their facilities—promoting green IT best-practices to reduce a company’s carbon footprint.
- Resource Optimization – Cloud services enable companies to use their resources as needed, up and down as the company fluctuates. This means, if a company needs less resources for a certain period, they can adjust their usage, whereas if they need more, they can add more—less resources go to waste.
- E-Waste Management – There’s always a new gadget or software to buy to keep companies at the forefront of change. This waste adds up quickly though, especially if the technology isn’t disposed of correctly. By promoting the correct disposable and recycling of electronics, the reduction in E-Waste will have a significant impact on the environment.
- Industry Regulations – With the push towards more environmentally friendly processes and procedures, governments and industries can set up standards to reduce the environmental strain cloud services cause.
Cloud services are here to stay (after all, we’re run on the cloud), but there’s still a lot to improve on the processes, standards, and management of the technology to reduce its environmental impact to ensure its in-line with ESG standards.