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2 July 2021: Amazon released a video summary and report on its sustainability targets and performance. The key take outs are that Amazon is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, with a shift of 42% from non-renewable within one year. The underlying message here is sustainability is no longer a political issue for the corporate sector, but a fiscal imperative.  

Why it’s Important

As outlined in previous IBRS research, all of the hyperscale cloud vendors - Google, AWS, Microsoft, Oracle and Alibaba - have well-documented strategies to reduce their reliance on carbon-based fuel sources. All position sustainability as a competitive advantage, not just against each other, but against on-premises data centres. 

It is likely that cloud vendors will be positioning their sustainability credentials in both business and general news channels, looking to position their brand as a leader on climate action. From a cynical view, this messaging will play well with the existing news cycle of the impact of climate change, from the disastrous bushfires to killer heatwaves in North America, to unseasonable storms and record-setting weather events. From a more optimistic perspective, these vendors will drive genuine solutions to reduce the carbon footprint associated with providing computing service.

Therefore, as cloud vendors set or meet zero carbon energy targets, the issue of sustainable ICT is set to re-emerge as a priority for CIOs and data centre architects.  

IBRS and BIAP (via the IT Leaders Summits) have tracked CIOs interest in the topic of green IT. An IBRS study in 2008 had sustainable ICT being rated as ‘very important’ for 25% of CIOs and ‘somewhat important’ for 59% of CIOs. Since then, interest in sustainable computing has plummeted year-on-year. The IBRS / BIAP data for 2016 had 6% of CIOs rating sustainable ICT as a priority. By 2020, less than 0.5% of CIOs rated sustainable ICT as a priority.

IBRS expects this trend to reverse sharply in 2024-2025 as the leading cloud vendors continue to demonstrate both environmental and financial benefits associated with renewable energy.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • CFO
  • Data centre leads
  • Infrastructure architects

What’s Next?

By 2025 the leading cloud vendors will leverage their position in renewable energy consumption as a selling point for policy-makers to mandate cloud computing and place unattainable goals for architects of on-premises data centres.

Rather than waiting, CIOs should review previous strategies for sustainable ICT, with the expectation that these will need to be updated and reinstated within the next 3-5 years.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. The Status of Green IT in Australian and New Zealand (2008)
  2. Building your Green IT strategy
  3. Think green IT: Think saving money
  4. Forget Green; think sustainable computing in 2009