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on Thursday, 30 August 2012
in Business News

The Cloud is Green

Understandably the chief concerns about cloud computing providers have thus far been concentrated toward “security, service reliability, vendor lock-in and lack of a clear business case”, notes Linda Tucci, news director at CIO Matters.  At the moment, whether cloud computing is environmentally friendly is not of much concern at all.

However a study commissioned by the Carbon Disclosure Project, found that by moving to Cloud Based Computing, companies can dramatically reduce their carbon footprint.

Their results show that by 2020, by spending 69% of their infrastructure, platform and software budgets on cloud services, U.S. companies with revenue of $1 billion or more would reap energy savings of $12.3 billion and carbon reductions equivalent to 200 million barrels of oil – enough to power 5.7 million cars for one year.

Migrating just one HR application to the public cloud could save one of these companies $12 million over five years and cut CO2 emissions by 30,000 metric tons. 

Google is on the Green Bandwagon

Google recently published energy savings for the public cloud provider Google Apps. These findings state that a migration to Google Apps can directly reduce energy for servers by 70-90%, reduce energy for server cooling by 70-90%, at a small cost of increasing energy 2-3% from the use of Google servers and more network traffic.

Google comments that SMEs and companies that migrate more of their organisation to the public cloud will save more than the averages set out above. These statements are backed up by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)’s case study.

According to Greenpeace , Google [and Yahoo] are leading the way in prioritizing access to renewable energy in their cloud expansion. Google has entered into two significant separate 20-year power purchase agreements (PPA) in the U.S, which is being considered by Greenpeace as an excellent example of an IT company directly purchasing renewable energy that has enough capacity to power its massive data centres.

Google has also created a subsidiary, Google Energy, which allows it to directly buy and sell federally regulated wholesale electricity. This offers Google greater flexibility and allows the IT giant to sell excess back to the grid.

Does the Green Issue Make People Move to the Cloud?

How much does the greenness of cloud computing concern the companies that are considering migrating some or all of their IT functions to the Cloud? According to Paul Stemmler, managing director of engineering and integration at Citigroup it doesn't have much of an effect at all.  He commented: "Carbon reduction is one driver, but not the primary driver". The industry has however, seen efforts to ‘green up’ data centres and cut consumption – especially at the larger cloud and social networking facilities, because even if green isn’t at the top of IT strategy agendas at the moment, it will be one day. 



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