Cloud Production Offers an Option for Sustainability in Media and Content Creation

Energy efficiency, resource sharing, dynamic scaling enhance environmental awareness

In this time of increasing awareness of environmental sustainability, players within the media-tech industry are seeking innovative solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. In one approach, the media- and content-creation sector is moving toward remote production in the cloud, a process that was accelerated by the pandemic.

Cloud production, leveraging the vast capabilities of cloud service providers, introduces a paradigm shift in how media is created, managed, and distributed. One of the primary sustainability advantages lies in ensuring that cloud providers also rely on renewable energy sources and maximize energy efficiency within the infrastructure. Many cloud providers invest in technologies — both hardware and software — that operate with high energy efficiency, reducing operational costs while contributing to a smaller overall carbon footprint.

Some more-sustainable data centers have incorporated cooling systems that use outdoor air and direct evaporative cooling to save both energy and water.

Resource sharing is a compelling factor driving sustainability in cloud production. A multi-tenant model enables multiple clients to efficiently share the same infrastructure, optimizing resource utilization particularly in software-as-a-service applications. This collaborative approach minimizes the need for individual organizations to maintain excess capacity, leading to a more efficient use of computing resources.

Dynamic scaling, up or down, allows organizations to provision resources based on demand. The elasticity ensures that computing power is used only when necessary, reducing energy consumption during periods of lower demand, and operational efficiency is improved by avoiding unnecessary resource consumption.

The cloud production model can address the issue of hardware-lifecycle impact. Traditionally, organizations managing on-premises production face challenges related to frequent hardware upgrades and replacement, contributing to electronic waste. Cloud providers are responsible for infrastructure maintenance, including upgrades. By managing the lifespan of equipment, cloud providers help reduce electronic-waste generation.

Despite the advantages, cloud providers are in fact data centers, sometimes very large facilities with a very large physical footprint. Being on 24 hours per day, seven days per week, the facilities use a great deal of energy, and, according to recent estimates, cloud computing generates 1.5–5% of all global carbon emissions. Understanding this impact is critical in improving the situation. The energy used to run these facilities and the water used to cool them are being explored in an effort to reduce their environmental footprint and impact. Using renewable energy sources and innovative cooling technologies, cloud providers are actively moving toward more-sustainable operations.

Production in the cloud represents a growing sustainable option in the media- and content-creation industry. Energy efficiency, resource sharing, dynamic scaling, and a commitment to green initiatives by cloud providers offer a more environmentally conscious approach to content creation. This shift not only aligns with global sustainability goals but also positions the industry as a responsible steward of the planet’s resources. Though not yet perfect, as technology continues to advance, cloud production is reshaping the future of media in a more sustainable manner.

Note: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of SVG.

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