Moving compute workloads from on-premises data centers to the cloud can improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon footprint by nearly 80% for companies in India, according to a new study of enterprises and public sector organizations by 451 Research. Commissioned by AWS, the report surveyed 515 organizations with annual revenues between US$10 million and US$1 billion across Australia, India, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.

Tech companies are playing a significant role in India’s economic development, and they have a role to play in the country’s sustainability evolution. As rapid digital transformation puts India on the cusp of becoming the world’s technology and innovation hub, governments and enterprises are realising that sustainability will influence the country’s evolution and progress. According to IBEF, the Government of India is aiming to achieve 227 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, and India’s renewable energy sector is expected to attract investment worth US$ 80 billion by 2025. Amidst ambitious targets set by the Government in India, the call for private and public sectors to collaborate on sustainable innovation has never been stronger, and cloud technology usage is one path to achieve this.

According to 451 Research, the data center market in India is also expected to have the highest growth among the APAC markets surveyed throughout the forecast period (2019-2024). As data center activity continues to surge, so will energy consumption, which will make energy efficiency a focus for enterprises, public sector users and data center providers.

“What really sets the cloud gains apart in APAC markets are the reductions in associated greenhouse gas emissions.”
Kelly Morgan, Research Director, Datacenter Infrastructure & Services at 451 Research of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Due to India’s coal-heavy electricity generation, moving the workload equivalent of one MW of IT data center capacity to the cloud would yield a massive carbon reduction of 3,449 metric tonnes per year on average. If cloud providers were able to provide services powered by 100% renewables, a total of 4,235 metric tonnes of CO2e emission could be avoided by running the same enterprise and public sector workloads in the cloud. That’s the equivalent of annual carbon emissions from more than 900 cars.

451 Research found that server-level efficiencies of Indian businesses and public sector organizations exceeded their peers in other surveyed APAC countries, as a result of higher rates of virtualization and a more aggressive stance towards workload consolidation. On-premises data centers across APAC typically have a server utilization rate of just under 15%, whereas cloud-based data centers using servers powered by the latest processors and with utilization well above 50% achieve peak efficiency. Given this difference in utilization, the report determines that cloud servers can achieve energy savings of more than 67% compared to typical on-premises servers, due to their practice of using the most up-to-date servers more efficiently.

Furthermore, when compared to on-premises data centers, 451 Research found that cloud-based data centers offer further potential energy savings of more than 11% due to their highly energy-efficient power and cooling systems. AWS is constantly innovating the design and application of cooling systems to reduce water use, and utilize real-time sensor data to adapt to changing weather conditions. Where we can, we use reclaimed or recycled water instead of potable drinking water, we work with local utilities to expand the use of reclaimed water, and we look for opportunities to return water to the community.

Customers migrate workloads from on-premises data centers to AWS to tap into our global infrastructure and the broadest selection of services to increase agility, drive innovation, and achieve cost savings, among other advantages. Moving to AWS is also much more sustainable than on-premises infrastructure, because AWS has always focused on energy efficiency and continuous innovation in our data centers. Our scale allows us to achieve much higher resource utilization and energy efficiency than the typical on-premises data center, especially since the AWS Global Infrastructure is built on Amazon’s own custom hardware - purpose-built and optimized for workloads run by AWS customers.

“What really sets the cloud gains apart in APAC markets are the reductions in associated greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kelly Morgan, Research Director, Datacenter Infrastructure & Services at 451 Research of S&P Global Market Intelligence. “While grid emissions differ greatly from country to country, the APAC average carbon emissions per kilowatt hour is well above that of the U.S. Consequently, shifting enterprise workloads to cloud infrastructure and reducing the energy footprint per workload yields even greater reduction in carbon emissions in APJ than in the U.S.”

Enabling innovation in sustainability to protect India’s natural resources

AWS empowers Indian enterprises and public sector organizations to innovate their own sustainability solutions on the cloud. According to a NITI Aayog report, by 2030, India’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people in the country. WEGoT Utility Solutions, based in Chennai, developed a cloud enabled water management platform on AWS that uses IoT based ultrasonic water sensors. The platform provides the ability to monitor water usage at a granular level, detect leaks remotely, and generate usage analytics and detailed reports to determine the optimum water consumption patterns in residential apartments and commercial buildings in India. Over the last five years, WEGoT Utility Solutions has scaled operations, and now processes over 12 million data ingestion points across more than 50,000 managed sensors on AWS.

At WEGoT, our goal is to address the water crisis challenge by providing our customers with data driven insights on every aspect of their water consumption patterns to drive more accountability, sustainable water management, and reduced water loss across the usage cycle,” said Abilash Haridass, Co-Founder and Chief of Growth & Strategy, WEGoT Utility Solutions. “Our solutions have already saved three billion litres of water over the last three years for our customers. With AWS, we’ve been able to build a data lake to manage all types of data ingestion points and provision new cloud resources dynamically as our sensor footprint increased. With AWS Credits and cost optimization services we’ve reduced our costs by 20-25% while our business grew exponentially. We’re pleased to work with AWS as they focus on even more ways to build sustainable and responsible business models that reduce the environmental impact on our natural resources.”

“We’re pleased to work with AWS as they focus on even more ways to build sustainable and responsible business models that reduce the environmental impact on our natural resources.

Abilash Haridass, Co-Founder and Chief of Growth & Strategy, WEGoT Utility Solutions

Unlocking more renewable energy for the region

Amazon is on a path to powering all our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of our original target. In 2020, we became the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, reaching 65% renewable energy across our business, having enabled 232 wind and solar projects worldwide.

“Cloud technology can credibly help companies in India decarbonize,” said Puneet Chandok, President Commercial Business – AWS India and South Asia, AISPL. “With India’s vibrant startup ecosystem already pioneering low carbon solutions, it is imperative that enterprises, public sector organizations, and policy makers factor in sustainability as a critical part of their cloud migration decisions. AWS’s commitment to fulfilling our net carbon neutrality goals in India includes initiatives in infrastructure efficiency, renewable energy, water sustainability, electric mobility, sustainable packaging, and building awareness through community engagement. I invite companies and organizations in India to join us in The Climate Pledge, committing to regular reporting, carbon elimination and credible offsets, on a journey to becoming net-zero carbon by 2040.”

“With India’s vibrant startup ecosystem already pioneering low carbon solutions, it is imperative that enterprises, public sector organizations, and policy makers factor in sustainability as a critical part of their cloud migration decisions.

Puneet Chandok, President Commercial Business – AWS India and South Asia, AISPL

451 Research estimates that emissions savings for organizations moving from on-premises data centers to cloud could rise to 93% if cloud data centers in APAC were powered by 100% renewable energy. This finding was especially important for the Asia Pacific region, as the study reported that the lack of accessible and affordable corporate renewable energy options in the region left a significant amount of carbon reduction potential on the table.

Consider this: If 25% of the 1,200 largest publicly-traded businesses in India put one megawatt (MW) of compute workload into a cloud powered entirely by renewable energy, it would save the equivalent of a year's worth of emissions from 160,000 Indian households. One MW is just a quarter of an average enterprise IT workload - imagine the impact if all computing workloads were migrated to the cloud.

Climate change is one of the most critical challenges we face. At Amazon, we are committed to building a sustainable business for customers and the planet, which is why we co-founded The Climate Pledge in 2019, a commitment to reaching net zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Over 100 companies have now joined us in the pledge. By investing in renewable power and ensuring our facilities and operations are energy efficient, we can provide our customers with the computing power they need to solve innovative challenges while reducing their overall impact on the environment and meeting their own sustainability ambitions.

To learn more, read the full report.