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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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