Unlocking the power of the cloud: Women leaders discuss driving sustainability in business

Unlocking the power of the cloud: Women leaders discuss driving sustainability in business

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How can an organization best promote sustainability, and what’s the role of cloud computing in ensuring a greener future?

This conversation is taking place in boardrooms across the country. It’s a trend that is expected to grow in the coming years, as 50% of chief information officers are projected to have performance metrics tied to the sustainability of the IT organization by 2025, according to Gartner Inc.

How can companies build that greener future? With an eye on keeping tabs on the latest trends in the industry, theCUBE industry analyst Lisa Martin sat down with some leading “women of the cloud” to learn more.

Thinking about sustainability means helping organizations prepare for a fundamentally different economy, according to Sophia Mendelsohn (pictured, left), chief sustainability officer and global head of ESG at Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp.

“This is a sea change, and it’s the bed of the economy that the rest of our products and services sit on,” she said. “If we start building from the ground up with systems like cloud and AWS, we’re actually enabling everything else to change with us.”

Mendelsohn, along with Makenna Salaverry, sales leader of digital-native businesses at Amazon Web Services Inc. (pictured, right), and Dannerys Duran (pictured, center), head of digital operations at Ginkgo Bioworks Inc., discussed those subjects and more with Martin during a special interview on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. (* Disclosure below.)

Sustainability is becoming a top priority

In 2022, for the first time, chief executive officers placed environmental sustainability as one of their top 10 business priorities, according to a survey by Gartner. Sustainability ranked eighth, a big jump from 14th place in 2019 to 20th in 2015.

Organizations have been asking about sustainability more than ever before, according to Salaverry.

“My team is very focused on helping our customers lower their AWS costs and also improve their application performance,” Salaverry said. “To meet those goals, we’ve been spending a lot of time talking to customers about our next-generation Graviton compute instances, which are really more cost-effective and also offer a higher performance.”

But beyond that, next-generation Graviton compute instances also are more energy efficient, using only 60% of the energy of AWS’ standard compute instances while offering the same performance, according to Salaverry.

“That, in turn, influences our customers’ sustainability outcomes,” she said.

Ensuring companies have environmental, social and governance and sustainability initiatives at the board level has also become expected by companies in recent years. Amazon has said it will reach net-zero carbon by 2040 and is investing $2 billion in a climate pledge fund to transition to a low-carbon economy, Salaverry noted.

Seeking to bring in more sustainable products

Amazon isn’t the only company seeking to reach net-zero goals. Such pledges have consistently made headlines over the past decade. More than 70 countries, including the biggest polluters — China, the United States and the European Union — have set net-zero targets, according to the United Nations.

That’s led Ginkgo Bioworks Inc. to seek to work with companies that want Ginkgo’s help to bring in more sustainable products, whether those are products to eat, wear or hold.

“To make it to net-zero, all sectors will need to decarbonize, particularly chemicals, food and agriculture. Biotechnology, what Ginkgo offers, is a key tool to reduce emissions in these areas,” Duran said.

Ginkgo and AWS are working together when it comes to these sustainability initiatives. Ginkgo stores all of its historical genetic sequencing runs and lab experiment data on AWS S3 and also tracks lab samples from the IoT sensor data collected in its robotic labs.

“One area I think is really important to mention is that Ginkgo automates creating new accounts for new experiments within their lab system. And that allows them to scale up and down for every new project so that they can quickly execute on driving those sustainable outcomes for their customers,” Salaverry said. “The scalability is just a huge benefit for Ginkgo Bioworks, because their business is project-based and they need that flexibility to innovate these biological breakthroughs for their customers.”

The partnership between Ginkgo and AWS has existed for the past six years, growing the company’s footprints in ways the company could never have imagined, according to Duran.

“I think we have 250 AWS accounts right now, and more to come the way the company’s growing,” she said.

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the “Special Program Series: Women of the Cloud” event:

(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the “Women of the Cloud” program series. Neither Amazon Web Services Inc., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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