Purchasers Guide for Sustainability and Cloud-Service Procurements

March 5, 2019

Public- and private-sector institutional purchasers are increasingly procuring “cloud” services. Clouds are essentially virtualized data centers, infrastructure, platforms, and applications offered as services on a subscription basis. Purchasers buy cloud services to meet their software and computing needs, including Software as a Service, data storage, and big data analytics. Purchasers are choosing cloud services for the anticipated improvements in efficiency, agility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, while not necessarily understanding the impact on their organization’s sustainability performance. The challenge for purchasers is identifying the potential sustainability implications of migrating to the cloud and knowing the relevant information to ask of suppliers to help them understand those impacts. To address this challenge, GEC has created this Guide to help institutional purchasers identify potential sustainability gains associated with their procurement of cloud services by posing questions to Cloud Service Providers regarding their performance in several relevant areas.

This Guide does not seek to be an exhaustive list of potential procurement questions, nor does it claim to address every sustainability issue associated with cloud services. Instead, it provides an initial list of procurement questions and examples of supporting documentation that can help purchasers gain better insight into cloud-related environmental sustainability topics while meeting their goal of a successful procurement. Procurement, especially public procurement, is a complex field comprised of specific rules and policies, and sustainability questions used in a procurement process must be applicable to the specific service(s) being purchased.

The procurement questions, supporting documentation examples, and other resources provided in this Guide can be used by purchasers to:

  • Understand where sustainability gains are possible in the provision of cloud services
  • Improve the dialogue with Cloud Service Providers on their current and planned sustainability efforts
  • Obtain supplier data that can be translated into organizational sustainability benefits associated with the decision to procure cloud services