With global cloud spend rising to $482 billion last year, cloud operations present a growing opportunity for businesses to cut carbon emissions, achieve sustainability objectives, and streamline costs.

IT is well-positioned to take the lead on cloud sustainability. But retooling businesses for sustainable cloud operations requires cohesive reform at every organizational level – from front-end services to supply chain management.

Knowing the core operational issues, their challenges, and the actions to overcome them is crucial. We’ve listed 3 major actions IT leaders can implement to kickstart and maintain their sustainability drives.


Outsource data processing and storage with cloud migrations

Global data center use accounts for 1-3% of all electricity consumption and 4% of carbon emissions worldwide. Migrating data processes and storage to the cloud can take the pressure off on-premise facilities to meet fluctuating demand and counter tech obsolescence by:

Cutting IT power costs. CSP centers optimized for data processing and storage consume 50% less electricity than the average on-premise equivalent, with seven times the processing power for the same electricity level

Outsourcing cloud management with Shared Sustainability Models (SSMs). It is tempting to “maintain control” with IaaS arrangements, but CSPs have the superior expertise and resources to manage cloud applications, sustainable solutions, and prevent obsolete technologies from causing technical debt

Reducing hardware costs by lengthening technology lifecycles. Instead of disposing of old hardware, businesses can utilize cloud-native SaaS applications that process off-site and interface on low-spec devices, eliminating hardware waste and lengthening the tech lifecycle by repurposing older devices

Savings on management and OPEX expenditures enable IT departments to focus on sustainable innovation and optimization within their core competencies, maximizing operational efficiencies and leaving cloud operations to the specialists.


Streamline emissions from general business operations

The impact of integrated cloud sustainability actions goes beyond the IT purview. Cloud-led optimizations of general operations can streamline business processes and achieve cost efficiencies while cutting emissions for the company as a whole. Optimizable areas include:

General power. Contracting CSPs and net-zero-focused energy providers operating joint Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) ensure consumed electricity doesn’t add to net emissions

On-premise office infrastructure. Specialized tools like Google BigQuery can track inventory use and adjust orders in real time, preventing cost and carbon inefficiencies from surplus equipment

Hybrid workforce policies. Cloud communication platforms and remote hiring practices help dismantle physical processes and ease team collaboration online, boosting workplace efficiency and reducing hefty commute-related emissions

Recycling practices. Besides rigorous internal practices to organize and encourage active recycling, early movers can take advantage of low-cost green financing for recycling contracts, creating income streams from waste materials and contributing to the circular economy

On-premise data processing. Deploy cloud-based machine learning to forecast electricity utility patterns and tailor procurement solutions, patch schedules, and other updates to match, minimizing power use at maximum capacity


Deploy cloud ERP solutions to monitor your Scope 3 footprint

Supply chains present an additional, crucial layer of complexity to the net zero equation, with Scope 3 emissions responsible for 80% of companies’ overall climate impact. Vision and control issues over expansive enterprise supply chains prevent effective resource and sustainability management, including:

Opaque carbon accounting and tracking practices

Overreliance on secondary data for carbon emissions

Existing emissions data scattered over spreadsheets and databases with inconsistent storage parameters and evaluation metrics

Lack of dedicated dashboards for resource management

Close collaboration requirements with suppliers, industry groups, and customers


Take advantage of specialized, cloud-based ERP software solutions to identify and collate emissions data, standardize evaluation metrics, and provide a collaborative platform for industry-wide information sharing and joint initiatives. Such solutions can be leveraged to:

Track targeted emissions (e.g. utilities, travel carbon expenses, logistics patterns) for their carbon footprint

Ensure business compliance with sustainability regulations

Analyze evolving industry outsourcing practices for adoption

Formulate data-supported carbon strategies incorporating:

Precise measurements of Scope 3 emissions, sources, quantifiable impacts, and planned reductions

Feasibility and effectiveness studies of targeted reduction levers

Industry collaboration channels to address multiple emission sources


Best-in-class cloud agreements, monitoring tools, and software solutions are key components that are difficult to evaluate accurately without specialist expertise. Accurate and experienced advisory is critical to effectively integrate cloud operations in your sustainability efforts.

Get started on your cloud sustainability journey or supercharge ongoing initiatives with Wavestone expert advisory.



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