Did You Know that the Cloud is Green?

A study produced by the independent analyst firm Verdantix, which was recently released by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), indicates that by switching from an on-premise solution to cloud computing, a company can significantly improve business process efficiency while reducing the carbon footprint of its IT operations.

Here is a brief summary of the findings of the Carbon Disclosure Project Study 2011—Cloud Computing—The IT Solution for the 21st Century:

  •  “US businesses with annual revenues of more than $1 billion can cut CO2 emissions by 85.7 million metric tons annually by 2020 as a result of spending 69% of infrastructure, platform, and software budgets on cloud services.”
  • “US businesses with annual revenues of more than $1 billion can achieve economy-wide savings in energy alone of $12.3 billion a year by 2020.”

The CDP study analyzed 11 different multinational corporations from a variety of different industries; each had been leveraging a cloud computing solution for at least two years. Some of the corporations surveyed in the study were Boeing, Dell, Citigroup, and Barclays Capital. The report also includes recommendations on how to maximize cloud computing investments.

You may be thinking, “Since my company does not bring in revenues of more than $1 billion, does cloud computing really reduce my carbon footprint?” The answer to that question is a profound, “Yes!” This CDP study is not the first of its kind. In 2010, Microsoft produced a study (with Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy) called “Cloud Computing and Sustainability: The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud.” The study found that businesses with cloud deployments featuring about 100 users reduced their carbon emissions by more than 90 percent.  For medium-size deployments of about 1,000 users, carbon emissions were reduced by 60 to 90 percent. For large deployments of about 10,000 users, carbon emissions were reduced by 30 to 60 percent.

“Cloud Computing and Sustainability” cited four key drivers behind cloud computing’s reduced environmental footprint:

  • Dynamic Provisioning—reducing the over-allocating of infrastructure
  • Multi-Tenancy—the flattening of overall demand peaks, making fluctuations more predictable
  • Server Utilization—virtualized server infrastructure balances compute and storage loads across physical servers, thus boosting utilization rates
  • Data Center Efficiency—cloud providers can significantly improve the power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratios of their data centers, allowing them to run servers at optimal utilization and temperature

It may come as a surprise to many, but the information and communications technology (ICT) industry accounts for approximately 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, according to Gartner, Inc. To illustrate how cloud computing can lead to a more sustainable ICT industry, Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist, uses a helpful metaphor:

“A data center essentially gets computing applications to carpool or take the bus instead of sitting in their own individual servers…but unlike mass transit vs. private vehicles, there is no tradeoff for convenience and on-demand availability.”

Among the fiscal benefits of implementing an xRM cloud strategy, your business can significantly reduce its carbon footprint. xRM.com offers a number of application hosting services, all of which can be tailored to meet the needs of your business. If you are interested in our services at xRM, we invite you to follow our xRM call to action.

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