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Microsoft Argues Cloud Boosts Green Computing

Providing compute and storage on demand and reducing costs are not the only benefits of cloud computing. Moving to the cloud can also can also reduce the carbon footprint of an enterprise, according to a report released by Microsoft today.

By shifting computing operations to the cloud, organizations can reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent, according to a study that is the basis of the report. Commissioned by Microsoft, the study was performed by IT outsourcing firm Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy, an environmental consulting organization.

One might argue it states the obvious, but the study is based on what Microsoft describes as a lifecycle analysis that calculates the environmental impact of IT products or services throughout the span of their implementations.

Enterprises that run Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Services, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Dynamics CRM online, can reduce emissions by 30 percent compared to running the same applications in house. For smaller organizations with 100 users, making the move can reduce emissions by more than 90 percent, the study concluded. For mid-sized organization with approximately 1,000 users, the range is between 60 and 90 percent, according to the report.

According to an executive summary of the report, the drivers for reducing emissions are as follows:

  • Dynamic Provisioning: Reducing wasted computing resources though better matching of server capacity with actual demand.
  • Multi-Tenancy: Flattening relative peak loads by serving large numbers of organizations and users on shared infrastructure.
  • Server Utilization: Operating servers at higher utilization rates.
  • Datacenter Efficiency: Utilizing advanced data center infrastructure designs that reduce power loss through improved cooling, power conditioning, etc.

While the report acknowledges that many large organizations can reduce energy use and emissions on their own, it argues that those operating large public cloud services "are best positioned to reduce the environmental impact if IT because of their scale."

Called Cloud Computing and Sustainability: The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud, the report can be downloaded here.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 Atlanta, GA

The idea that moving my data center into the cloud will somehow magically save electricity and eliminate greenhouse gasses in as preposterous as saying feng shui will make my data center run cooler. A machine or vm in my center wont use any more electricity than one anywhere else and since electricity is still used, greenhouse gases are still produced.

Fri, Nov 5, 2010 ibsteve2u Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

I have a number of reasons for not liking "the cloud", but the primary one is centered upon offshoring: "The cloud", too, is an excellent target for remote (like in Bangalore) support. The American people are extremely disadvantaged by bogus currency exchange rates; we are artificially made non-competitive. That has huge long-term consequences. It is bad business to invest $60,000 dollars (plus student loan interest) in technical and engineering skills that Corporate America will spend the rest of your life trying to make valueless with offshoring. American kids can see that...and so "We need H-1Bs because we cannot get talent here!" is made self-fulfilling. But America's political and corporate management? They're steady on their course of "I'm going to get rich NOW - and somebody else can worry about tomorrow!". Frankly, the only way the American people can get back in the game is to replace America's management wholesale.

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