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In Our Modern Workplace, Security and Sustainability Go Hand in Hand


As an Enterprise Architect, I’m always thinking about cyber resiliency, reducing risk, and protecting profitability. These concerns were our main motivations when we set out to modernize our workplace and improve our security posture here at Hydro. As a global energy and aluminum provider, with many other companies relying on us as a supplier, business continuity is absolutely critical. What emerged as the right path for us to accelerate our security maturity and digital transformation serendipitously happened to tie into one of our big-picture goals: sustainability. I’ll explain.

The importance of ESG goals

Sustainability is at the forefront of our organization and is key to our plans for the future. From mining to manufacturing, we take our role in the global aluminum and energy industries and our environmental impacts very seriously. A glance around our website will show you the high importance we place on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. 

Whether it’s recycling initiatives, protecting species biodiversity, or harnessing renewable energy, we are on the path to meeting our ambitious ESG goals and have made concrete action plans to do so. For example, one of our main targets is to make net-zero aluminum by 2050 or earlier. 

The role of the cloud and zero trust security in digital transformation

At Hydro, we’ve come to realize how important a role the cloud and zero trust technologies play in realizing our big-picture goals in terms of sustainability, profitability, and security. As it turns out, we’re not the only company recognizing the environmental and financial benefits of our digital transformation. 

In an analysis by consulting firm Accenture,  two-thirds of responding CEOs view technologies like the cloud as critical factors for accelerating change and transforming sustainability commitments into reality. The analysis shows that initial cloud migrations can reduce carbon emissions by more than 84% compared with conventional infrastructure. And by designing applications specifically for the cloud, that number can be pushed even higher—up to 98%. It also shows a cost savings of up to 30% to 40% on the total cost of ownership.

The financial and environmental benefits of the cloud are interwoven

Cloud service providers reduce cost and carbon emissions in multiple ways: 

  • Better utilization: A multi-tenant approach allows for greater workload flexibility and compute utilization, resulting in denser processing and reduced energy requirements.
  • Hardware resources: Cloud service providers eliminate the need for energy-intensive on-premises hardware, which includes traditional security appliances.
  • Energy efficiency: Many cloud providers operate at scale and are able to leverage larger and more energy-efficient data centers.

This, of course, is on top of all the other benefits of moving to the cloud—from lower costs, with no need for upfront hardware investments and maintenance, to accessibility to resources from anywhere. 

Security in the cloud

Circling back to security, I want to point out that cloud security providers in the security service edge (SSE) and zero trust space are important players in this move to the cloud—they make it safer and help accelerate our digital transformation. Right now, the cost of security breaches is at an all-time high, with IBM Security’s “The Cost of a Data Breach Report” showing that the global average cost of a breach increased 2.6% in 2022 to 4.35 million. 

With that kind of financial risk in mind, we came to the conclusion that moving to the cloud, and reaping the benefits that go along with it, should be done in partnership with the right cloud security vendor who can assist us on that journey. Let me just say, it’s not something you would want to do alone.

Early on in our cloud journey, we gravitated toward a zero trust architecture and security service edge (SSE) solution because we saw where things were headed and wanted to invest in an approach that was a match for our business and fulfilled the connectivity needs of our users. After the test of time, it became clear that we made the right decision in partnering with an enduring leader in the cloud security industry. 

We haven’t looked back

As we continue to evolve our modern workplace, we are moving toward retiring VPN. We’ve seen that VPN is not only cumbersome, it is also a big security risk, as it often serves as the key that opens the door to cyberthreats. Our adoption of zero trust architecture has helped reduce the attack surface by directly connecting users to corporate applications without connecting them to the network. It also limits lateral movement by monitoring workflows across cloud deployments.

By leveraging SSE, our users have a better experience when accessing SaaS applications, with improved productivity and performance. And we’ve been able to reduce backhauling and the associated costs. 

Looking to the future

Our secure move to the cloud makes ESG reporting easier. Though not currently mandatory, the Brookings Institute reports that the EU and the US are both trending toward more extensive climate reporting. When it comes to security, our SSE and zero trust vendor already uses 100% renewable energy in its global offices and data centers that operate the security cloud, so we know they’ll be on board with providing their users with additional reporting tools. In the meantime, our sights are set on becoming a 100% cloud company as we continue to walk the walk in our sustainability goals.


You can read more about Hydro in this case study.

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