Everyone talks about how the cloud increases agility, decreases IT costs, and saves time, but are there even more benefits? Many companies are making a companywide commitment to Go Green by cutting their carbon footprint.
There are big and small ways that all companies can decrease their carbon footprint, including:
- Switching to energy-saving light bulbs
- Turning off or unplugging devices when they are not being used
- Allowing employees to work from home occasionally to decrease emissions
- Encouraging alternative modes of transportation (i.e. car-pooling, cycling, etc.)
- Creating a recycling program
One of the most prominent areas that companies should focus on when committing to decreasing their carbon footprint is IT. In particular, there are a vast number of green benefits to moving applications that are currently hosted on-premises to the cloud. The infographic below from Dell compares hosting on-premises to cloud computing in regards to environmental impact.
Corporations with in-house data centers have a server utilization rate near 5 or 10%, a drastic decrease compared to shared data centers that report a 60-70% utilization rate.
Resource and Energy Costs
While climate control, electricity, and equipment costs are typically compartmentalized on-premises, they are shared in the cloud. In addition, companies often have to purchase additional machines that are only used occasionally for peaks in data loads, which causes a continual waste of energy consumption. In comparison, the cloud allows companies to allocate resources when and where they are needed so they are using the machines absolutely necessary at that point in time, decreasing overall energy consumption dramatically.
One of the most costly items of hosting on-premises is the price of replace or updating equipment. In comparison, cloud providers are typically able to update their servers, insulation, and building systems for maximum energy efficiency easier than companies maintaining their own in-house data centers.
The Impact of Going Green in the Cloud
In addition, a 2010 study from Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy found that businesses that move applications to the cloud could decrease the associated per-user carbon footprint by 30 percent for large, already-efficient companies and up to 90 percent for smaller, and least efficient businesses. With companies continuing to move to the cloud, businesses will reap double the benefits with decreased costs and carbon emissions.
In a report by research firm Verdantix, cloud computing could save companies $12.3 billion of their energy bills and reduce 85.7 million metric tons in carbon emissions per year by 2020. How much is that you may ask? Well, the carbon reduction is equivalent to 200 million barrels of oil, which is enough to power 5.7 million cars for one year. The decrease in costs and emissions is attributed to being able to spread compute loads across many users to improve hardware utilization, the economies of scale, and the flexibility of managing virtual not physical servers.
For companies creating a Green Strategy, they should take a close look at how the cloud can benefit both the environment and their business.