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Could the cloud save the world?



By Alexander Waldhaus, Director, Global Modern Workplace Services at Crayon

The acceleration of technological advances in recent years means that cloud adoption is no longer a choice for businesses, but an inevitability. The breadth of data that organisations now hold is almost incomprehensibly huge, so cloud infrastructure is vital to unlock its potential, making it easier and faster to access data from virtually anywhere in the world. 

However revolutionary this ease of access has been for businesses, many organisations are not realising the full potential of cloud computing. If used correctly, some of these benefits could help humanity to tackle some of its most difficult challenges. 

Two global issues that are particularly pressing for companies are sustainability and cybersecurity. These problems are complex and require wide-ranging political and economic solutions. However, the wider adoption of cloud computing and the consistent exploitation of its positive features could make a significant contribution to solving these concerns.

Clearing carbon concerns in the cloud

While big business used to focus on profits and profits alone, companies are beginning to understand this must not come at a cost of the planet. For example, Microsoft are making efforts to be carbon negative by as early as 2030 and are also aiming to remove all the carbon the company has ever emitted directly or from electrical consumption by 2050. As our awareness of the importance of reducing energy consumption and controlling CO2 emissions has increased, companies have looked with greater intent at how their products and services could be more environmentally-friendly. And one way to do this is to use universally available cloud services.

Cloud services can be seen as the roads and bridges of the online world. They connect information resources and software on different servers across the world, making them an essential part of global infrastructure. 

Whether the cloud is being used for robotic process automation (RPA) services or e-commerce sites that rely on cloud computing solutions, the benefits of the cloud to businesses cannot be underestimated. 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.

A move to the cloud from a locally managed on-premises system also means a more efficient use of resources, reducing infrastructure and energy costs thanks to the reduced need for hardware or storage facilities. In fact, the transition to cloud computing is expected to prevent at least 629 million metric tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere between 2021 and 2024, according to market research company IDC.

Cloud providers are also doing their bit by proactively looking at ways they can reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the environment. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has committed to using electricity from 100% renewable sources for its own use by 2025. 

With research suggesting a company can lower its carbon emissions by 88% by running applications in the cloud compared with enterprise data systems, businesses looking for ways to operate more sustainably and efficiently should look to the cloud to address these challenges. 

Keeping data secure

The threat of cyber attacks is of constant concern for businesses, especially with accelerating use of digital services meaning more data is at risk than ever before. The true scale of this is hard to grasp, but considering new and extremely damaging cyber-attacks have been occurring almost daily for the past few years, we can be reasonably certain that the pace of threats is going to continue to increase.

While the trend of moving ever more data online to the cloud might seem counterproductive when trying to protect against online attacks, the nature and innovation of cloud computing solutions in fact make these a significantly more secure alternative. 

There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, cloud storage providers use dedicated operations centres that are staffed around the clock by cybersecurity experts. This continuous monitoring means they are always on the lookout for digital threats to the cloud storage infrastructure and are ready to act in the event of any potential hacking attempts. Not just that, but the physical safety of an organisation’s servers is covered too, with most data centres operating with heightened security to prevent them coming to harm from illegal activity or a natural disaster.

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.

And lastly, the three largest cloud providers —Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud — have spent years strengthening and expanding their security, responding to any threats as they happen and building systems that are secure. They have a strong commitment to security innovation in their markets and are continuously acquiring or adopting best practices from the most prominent cybersecurity companies, so users can feel safe that their organisation’s data is in safe hands. 

A move to the cloud not only offers security and sustainability, but convenience and speed. With a rapidly evolving digital landscape, and new challenges to navigate daily, the cloud offers a simple solution to help businesses find solutions, bringing both peace of mind and maximum return to the organisation and its customers. Given that the cloud is already contributing to solving challenges as complex as climate change and cybersecurity, it is hoped that its functionality will continue to evolve the world’s most pressing issues. 

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