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The Impact of Cloud Optimization on Sustainability

Jordan Rodgers

EMEA Business Development Director, Intel Granulate

Cloud computing provides cost-effective and scalable internet solutions for enterprises; however, it also has an effect on the environment. Data centers present a dilemma—they are measurably detrimental to environmental sustainability by contributing to carbon emissions, but are also crucial to allowing us to access many of the digital services we enjoy today. This dilemma indicates the need for concerted efforts towards minimizing their environmental impacts without sacrificing user experience.   

Data centers store, move and process 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an average data center consumes about 10 to 50 times more energy per floor space than a typical office building. This trend has no end in sight, with the International Energy Agency revealing that global data center energy consumption increased by 45% from 2020 to 2022, reaching 264 terawatt-hours per year. 

Cooling systems, in turn, require appreciable volumes of water to maintain the temperature of servers. This heavy water consumption contributes to water scarcity in local regions. To mitigate these negative impacts, enterprises have thus pursued data center optimizations, including via the adoption of renewable energy. Amazon’s reputation as the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy bears witness to this truth. 

Cloud Resource Optimization

However, renewable energy alone will not solve the negative impact of data centers. Optimizing unused and underutilized cloud resources is another effective long-term approach to cloud optimization. Customers are already optimizing their cloud workloads, but in order for significant sustainability gains to be achieved, it needs to be made easy to deploy and manage at scale. That’s why continuous, autonomous optimization solutions will be the next frontier.

According to a 2021 Gartner report, cloud waste costs organizations 31% of their cloud spend. Cloud waste is primarily caused by underutilization, and the Gartner statistics indicates that cloud resource maximization is the best way out. Organizations have implemented cloud resource maximization in several forms—59% adopted artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), 72% use auto-scaling tools, 58% implement instance rightsizing, and 46% leverage instance scheduling tools.

However, the first step to effective cloud optimization is workload identification. It provides organizations with an understanding of their applications, services, and data usage. Next comes analysis, which involves monitoring resource usage and application performance to identify inefficiencies or bottlenecks.

The data gained from this analysis can then be used to implement best-fit optimization strategies such as resizing virtual machines, adjusting storage configurations, and modifying application code. Enterprises can also implement third-party tools such as Granulate’s sustainability calculator to assess their organizations progress towards sustainability goals. 

Cloud optimization is an ongoing process; the monitoring of resource usage patterns and their environmental effects must be continuous. For example, Granula’s dashboard has a CO2 Savings Meter that helps monitor and regulate carbon emissions. 

In addition to data centers, programming languages are also resource-intensive—especially Ruby and Python as demonstrated by the table below. According to a 2020 StackOverflow survey, 44.1% of applications are developed with Python, while 7.1% use Ruby. The collective environmental impacts of these languages are, at best, colossal. Hence, organizations must re-evaluate their programming language choices as part of their cloud optimization efforts. 

Energy use of programming languages
Energy use of programming languages (Source: Greenlab)

Legal Frameworks for Cloud Optimization

Cloud optimization is additionally backed by government and international regulations, which mandate that organizations channel efforts toward reducing carbon emissions, e-waste, and energy consumption. Although the regulations are still prescriptive with well-defined windows for implementation, organizations consider them “urgent” due to the business impact of stricter regulations in the future. 

This need for compliance has precipitated an increase in investments in cloud optimization, and some of the frameworks are noted below. 

10 Sustainability Regulations Your Cloud Company Should Know About
10 Sustainability Regulations Your Cloud Company Should Know About

How Cloud Optimization Impacts Sustainability

Cloud optimization aims to ensure that continuous cloud use positively impacts society and the global economy. Aside from this objective, other benefits of cloud optimization include the following.

Cost savings: Resource optimization will enable companies to lower their cloud spend and get more out of their cloud resources. This makes cloud computing more accessible and affordable.

Energy efficiency: Reducing idle capacity and minimizing unnecessary computing tasks significantly minimizes energy use and reduces the carbon footprint of cloud computing. These are just a few of the steps you can take to make your processes more efficient.

Cloud resource consolidation: Optimizing cloud resources will enable enterprises to consolidate their infrastructures by integrating multiple workloads into fewer servers, reducing the need for incremental infrastructure buildout by the cloud providers.

Granulate’s impact on sustainability 

For effective cloud optimization, organizations must use certain tools and solutions that enable them to understand their current carbon footprint, measure the rate of their implementation of cloud optimization and its impact on their carbon footprint, and track their compliance with the state and international regulations cited earlier. 

Granulate provides autonomous, continuous workload optimization on the runtime level that enables companies to downsize their server usage and optimize resource usage by up to 45%. This has a significant impact on not only performance and cost, but also carbon footprint. Try the sustainability calculator to find out how much your cloud can reduce its carbon emissions with optimization. 


As global enterprises turn to cloud optimization, every organization, regardless of size, must be a part of the progress. Optimizing cloud infrastructure can significantly impact sustainability by reducing energy consumption, carbon emissions, and overall environmental impact. By efficiently using resources, improving data center design, and embracing cloud optimization solutions like Granulate, enterprises can achieve their cloud optimization goals, which is critical to sustainability.

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