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How can the cloud make the public sector greener?

With the Sovereign Cloud, public authorities can also say goodbye to inefficient data centers – and comply with regulations

January 11 2024Moritz Nowitzki

Sustainability is an important mantra

Public administration is one of the largest consumers in Europe: billions are spent every year on office supplies, services, and PCs. The signals are increasingly being set to “green”. Directives such as the EU Green Public Procurement (GPP) practice or the German government's measures require public organizations to give preference to sustainable and climate-friendly solutions – even when it comes to digitalization.

Digitalization makes public authorities more sustainable

The digital transformation enables the public sector to make many processes more capable and efficient and thus contribute directly to climate and environmental protection. Thanks to digital processes, less printed matter is produced. Online digital services save citizens from having to travel to the nearest office and with the help of the Internet of Things, lighting and air conditioning in public facilities can be controlled as required and therefore in an energy-efficient manner. T-Systems is currently working with public authorities on many other use cases to make citizen services or administrative processes more sustainable through digitalization.

Energy label for sustainability

But digital solutions also consume energy: from the manufacture of PCs, laptops, and the like to data traffic on the Internet and IT operations in the data center. How can the actual consumption be determined? It would be advantageous if authorities could transparently track and document the energy consumption of the entire life cycle of digital solutions within a given infrastructure. This would allow the entire IT energy chain to be mapped end-to-end. The data collected could be used to provide evidence similar to the EU's energy label. Thanks to the traffic light colors green, orange, and red, consumers can immediately see how energy-efficient a washing machine or smart TV is and how much electricity they consume. This automatically helps to monitor energy use.

Red card for on-premises data centers

For on-premises data centers, which are still frequently used in the public sector, the traffic light tends to be orange or red. Especially in older data centers, inefficient hardware and complex air conditioning systems drive up energy requirements and reduce cost efficiency. Professional cloud service providers operate differently, using various measures to make their data centers more sustainable. Hyperscalers are increasingly relying on renewable energies to reduce their impact on the environment and help optimize energy usage. Google, for example, has been CO2-neutral since 2017 and aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030. T-Systems also operates its data centers entirely with green electricity and joined the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact in 2021, an initiative that actively supports the EU Green Deal. In another blog post, we describe the many ways in which the cloud, and the Sovereign Cloud in particular, can contribute to sustainability, increased energy efficiency, reduced and monitored electricity consumption and a streamlined digital transformation.

White paper: Europe heading for the sovereign cloud

Discover the role of sovereign clouds for digitalization.

Compliance conformity in the public cloud

Public institutions are often reluctant to use public cloud resources or platforms due to regulations such as the GDPR. With the T-Systems Sovereign Cloud powered by Google Cloud, there is, however, a solution that gives the public sector digital sovereignty and enables it to use its data and workloads in the public cloud in a compliant manner. That is to say: it enables the Cloud adoption or "cloudification" of organizations where cloud computing was previously not possible due to legal requirements.

Our Sovereign Cloud ensures that data and infrastructure are protected, and that the necessary regulations for cybersecurity are met. This gives the public sector new scope for cloud-based use cases that bring added value for public authorities and citizens. Further details on the three pillars of our Sovereign Cloud that facilitate service delivery– namely data, software, and operational sovereignty – can be found here.

Hybridity is a big plus point

In general, not all public administration workloads need to be located in a Sovereign Cloud. Hybrid cloud models are suitable for less critical processes and strategy. An example: Authorities efficiently store online forms with general information in conventional public clouds, for example from Google or other hyperscalers. When it comes to sensitive or confidential data, the Sovereign Cloud with its strict security and data protection capability is the better choice.

Depending on the criticality of the workloads, we offer various security levels as part of the T-Systems Sovereign Cloud powered by Google, including Sovereign Controls, Supervised, and Hosted Cloud. The advantage: our Sovereign Cloud solutions all have the same look and feel, and they are compatible with each other, as well as with the Google world. Interoperability with other public cloud services is also guaranteed.

Into a green future with GovTech firms

To accelerate digitalization in the public sector, T-Systems and Google Cloud are supporting the GovTech initiative GovStart from the consulting firm Public.io. GovTech, short for government technology, is usually the domain of start-ups that develop and provide innovative solutions for the public sector. The goal: to modernize administration and make it fit for the future with minimized detrimental power consumption. One of the biggest challenges is to reduce the carbon footprint of public authorities through digital processes in order to ensure more climate-friendly and sustainable operations.

Our sponsorship of GovStart shows that it is also possible to successfully use high-tech technologies such as artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things in the public sector. Thanks to our Sovereign Cloud, authorities no longer have to worry about infrastructure or cost savings and can use cloud-native applications or software-as-a-service solutions flexibly.

About the author
Moritz Nowitzki

Moritz Nowitzki

Head of Portfoliomanagement & Strategy, T-Systems International GmbH

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You can find our other articles on the topic of sustainability and the Sovereign Cloud here:

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