Sustainable Public Cloud a Priority for Enterprises Using AI

Demand for AI has compelled cloud providers to dramatically increase their infrastructure offerings
Gartner finds 70% of enterprises adopting Gen AI will cite sustainability & digital sovereignty as top criteria for selecting between public cloud services

The dramatic rise in AI has had a transformative impact on the cloud landscape. With generative AI (Gen AI) technology front of mind for business leaders, driven by the meteoric rise of tools like ChatGPT, CIOs globally have been tasked with incorporating it into their business.

This increased demand for AI has compelled cloud providers to dramatically increase their infrastructure offerings. “We’ve seen significant growth in demand for the cloud as businesses continue to evaluate every part of their business, considering opportunities for transformation by technology, data and AI,” Maynard Williams, Managing Director, UK at Accenture, told us recently.

When it comes to selecting cloud providers to power these AI models, enterprises face a number of decisions. According to research conducted by Gartner, sustainability and digital sovereignty will be the top criteria when it comes to selecting public cloud Gen AI services – with 70% of organisations surveyed saying these issues would be top of their mind by 2027.

“Because of its scale and shared services model, cloud technology is best-suited for the delivery of Gen AI-enabled applications at scale and the development of general-purpose foundation models,” says Sid Nag, Vice President Analyst at Gartner. “However, certain aspects must be addressed, including digital sovereignty, or the ability to control where data is stored and where operations are executed, and sustainability issues so that organisations can operationalise Gen AI.”

The role of digital sovereignty in public cloud decisions

The advancement of foundation models (FMs) and large language models (LLMs), which are the core of Gen AI capabilities, are driving rapid and continual evolution of Gen AI capabilities and use cases. However the implementation of Gen AI in the enterprise poses significant regulatory challenges, with research from VMware suggesting that data sovereignty is one of the key challenges facing organisations. According to Gartner, these challenges include regulations on the data contained within LLMs, as well applications that leverage these FMs and LLMs.

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“Specialty cloud providers will become an important consideration for many enterprise cloud architectures as organisations extend their cloud operations to cover diverse locations and use cases,” Nag explains. “Digital sovereignty will drive the need to include cloud providers that can meet the evolving and unique requirements of sovereign operations no matter the region they operate in.”

Sustainability’s role in public cloud decisions

Sustainability is an increasingly important aspect for enterprises looking to move to the cloud. According to Gartner, organisations deploying Gen AI services will look to the public cloud, given the scale of the required infrastructure. Still, they will also require cloud providers to address nontechnical issues related to sustainability.

The pressure from investors, customers, regulators and governments about sustainability is forcing organisations to manage and optimise their IT carbon emissions to achieve their environmental sustainability goals. New processes, capabilities and tools will be introduced, oriented to the monitoring and management of energy consumption and carbon emissions for GenAI workloads deployed on the cloud.

“Cloud computing plays a pivotal role today in supporting sustainability and Gen AI business applications by providing scalable infrastructure, enabling eco-friendly practices and allowing cost-effective resource management,” Nag concludes. “Cloud is the platform that most IT leaders rely upon to support their sustainability journey when it comes to overall Gen AI implementation.”

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