You Don’t Have to Be a Hyperscaler to Run a Sustainable Data Center

Cloudify your data center with InCommand

Serverfarm welcomes carbon net zero and net negative commitments by cloud hyperscalers such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon. The climate actions and initiatives by the IT infrastructure giants are a welcomed sight, and we support all genuine efforts to tackle climate change.

At the same time, we also believe that sustainability is not only for the giants. That to operate like a Google or an Amazon, you don’t have to be a hyperscaler.

Why aren’t we like Google/Amazon/Apple?

In every corporate board room across the world, the same questions have been asked at some point.

“What are Amazon/Google/Apple/Facebook doing that we are not? How can they make such solid commitments in areas such as net zero GHG emissions and broader sustainability targets?”

Yet when it comes to data centers, we believe you don’t have to be Google to be like Google.

By partnering with Serverfarm, enterprises can run their data centers from the cloud as virtualized environments where efficient and sustainable operations are achievable using real-time data.

Serverfarm’s InCommand Services is the cloud platform used to manage all types of physical data center environments, bringing them all together under one technology “roof” and maximizing efficiencies. Importantly, InCommand also drives forward sustainability strategies for enterprises by eliminating unnecessary workload “waste”.

Celebrating the sustainability initiatives by the tech giants

The giant cloud players have used their scale to push forward on renewable purchasing and other sustainability initiatives.

Serverfarm backs all real actions to boost data center efficiency and to reduce GHG emissions. We’re committed to doing everything in our power to tackle climate change, including supporting commitments around carbon emissions reductions from across the industry.

In the last couple of years, a seemingly plentiful supply of renewable energy has allowed hyperscale data center operators to buy solar- and wind-generated power along with RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates) and PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) to support environmentally friendly policies and hit aggressive zero-carbon-footprint targets.

The power capacity required by hyperscale data centers runs to terawatts and the operators have done an excellent job of defining net zero carbon policies, sourcing renewable power and directly investing in solar and wind farms to keep their data centers operating.

Purchasing electricity generated from renewables has resulted in companies such as Google and Apple securing power to match their data center energy consumption. We will let Amazon and Google work out who became the largest purchaser of renewable energy in 2020.

The hyperscalers are accomplishing some amazing sustainability-related goals. Below, we offer some extracts from sustainability reports and information on the latest initiatives by big tech companies.

“We are driving down Scope 1 and 2 emissions to near zero by the middle of this decade, focusing on our direct and indirect emissions from our facilities and datacenters through the following methods:

Microsoft 2020 Environmental Sustainability Report
Microsoft 2020 Environmental Sustainability Report

… Microsoft has been supporting the EU’s efforts to develop a policy proposal on climate neutral datacenters. We also helped commission a major think tank study on datacenter energy efficiency issues for use in advocacy efforts and are helping create dedicated trade association projects in Brussels and Dublin to engage in the related policy efforts.

… Our datacenters will roll out a global initiative to train employees on company-wide and site-specific procedures to operationalize zero waste.”

Read Microsoft’s full sustainability report at this link.  


IBM has committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. In early 2021, it announced detailed actions it is taking now and those it will take in the future to reach that lofty goal. It began with a commitment to reduce GHG emission by 65% within four years.

IBM said: “What’s most important in the fight against climate change is to actually reduce emissions. The company’s net zero goal is also accompanied by a specific, numerical target for residual emissions that are likely to remain after IBM has first done all it can across its operations to reduce.”

IBM Research has launched a Future of Climate initiative designed to accelerate the discovery of solutions to address the impacts of a changing climate.

IBM Sustainability Report
IBM Sustainability Report

Importantly, IBM said “its net zero pledge also establishes near-term targets to drive accountability and progress now. It is transparent in terms of how the company calculates and reports renewable energy use.”

In January, IBM joined the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium.

“Renewable energy: In 2019, we achieved 86 percent renewable energy for our operations and now have over 1.3 gigawatts of wind and solar projects online.

Water steward: In 2019, we contracted four new water restoration projects that will restore 206,000 cubic meters of water per year in our data center communities.

Our renewable energy procurement has also resulted in substantial water savings when compared with sourcing energy from the standard utility energy mix. In 2019 alone, our water savings totalled 77 million cubic meters (over 3 billion gallons).

Check out Facebook’s full 2019 sustainability report and associated blog.

Facebook Sustainability Report
Facebook Sustainability Report

In June 2020, AWS released this report, titled “All In: Staying the Course on Our Commitment to Sustainability,” outlining the giant’s sustainability-related commitments and initiatives. The comprehensive report highlights Amazon’s sustainable buildings, including its data centers. “Amazon Web Services (AWS) has always focused on efficiency and continuous innovation in our data centers to improve operational excellence and reduce our impact on the environment. …  

In addition to our efforts on energy efficiency and our goal to achieve 100% renewable energy for our global infrastructure, AWS has multiple initiatives to improve our water use efficiency and reduce the use of potable (drinking) water for cooling data centers.”

Read more here.

Amazon Sustainability Commitment 2020
Amazon Sustainability Commitment 2020

And of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without a look at Google’s environmental efforts. “In 2007, we became carbon neutral and in 2017, we became the first company of our size to match 100% of our global, annual electricity consumption with renewable energy,” the team wrote in its sustainability progress report. “Today, we are the largest annual corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world.”

In its 2020 Environmental Report, Google explained: “In 2019, we diverted 90% of waste from our global data center operations away from landfills. … Google data centers use about six times less overhead energy (10%) for every unit of IT equipment energy.”

Google Evironmental Report 2020
Google Evironmental Report 2020

At Serverfarm, we believe that transparency and intelligence sharing is the only way to tackle the climate crisis. We are fully focused on reducing our carbon footprint and providing sustainable data center infrastructure for our customers and fellow citizens. Serverfarm is fully committed to reducing GHG emissions from its data center operations.

Our data center development strategy is based on the modernization and renovation of existing facilities. Finding new capacity and improving power and cooling efficiency in our own data centers and other existing facilities means we help enterprises avoid building new data centers, which is a wildly carbon-intensive activity.

The InCommand cloud platform enables enterprises, commercial data center operators and cloud operators to measure and manage every aspect of the physical data center and IT environment in order to meet sustainability targets.

Start your journey toward sustainable data center operations today. Do your part to make the data center community more sustainable.

Embodied Carbon Report
Embodied Carbon Report