Cloud Computing Can Cut Carbon Emissions

E-mail, content sharing and customer relationship management–if your business is currently running any of these applications on its own infrastructure, it could cut its computing carbon footprint by at much as 30% by moving operations to “the cloud,” according to a new study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy.

Cloud computing works, essentially, by allowing users to stop running computing applications on their own computers and have them run, instead, by large data centers which benefit from economies of scale. These data centers, according to Microsoft, achieve operational efficiencies beyond what even large corporate IT departments can achieve–and the smaller the business, the more it energy it can save.

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Image via Hudson Library

The study assessed the carbon footprint of server, networking and storage infrastructure for three different deployment sizes (100, 1,000 and 10,000 users).  For large corporations, the study showed typical savings of 30 percent or more in energy consumption and carbon emissions using cloud applications, while small organizations (100 users) showed a effective carbon footprint reduction of as much as 90 percent, simply by using a shared cloud environment instead of their own servers.

Microsoft calls this an opportunity for businesses to effectively ‘outsource’ their IT efficiency investments while working towards achieving sustainability goals. The complete whitepaper is available online.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

    • Cloud providers should be working hard to make sure their services are run on sustainable resources. They should focus not only on the future of IT infrastructure, but also on how that future will be powered.