Microsoft argues cloud boosts green computing

Study finds organizations can reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent

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 this week.

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 executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner and an editor-at-large at Redmond magazine, affiliate publications of Government Computer News.

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Reader Comments

Mon, Nov 8, 2010 Michael D. Long Knoxville, TN

This green initiative is based in whole part on lunacy. If we were talking about reducing carbon monoxide emissions, a toxic gas, instead of carbon dioxide, a gas that humans and other animals emit and that is beneficial to plant life, then the conversation would have merit. I've seen green fanatics claiming that within a few years the IT industry will be responsible for 40% (yes, FORTY) of all power consumption in the USA. The reality about going green is that modern carbon dioxide levels are far lower than they were during the 19th century, and there is no direct correlation between carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures. Even if there were, if the USA reduced its emissions by 50% (which cannot be obtained without a return to non-industrial living by most Americans) the global impact would be 3% at best, and that assumes no growth in emissions by foreign countries. Since plants require, and actually thrive, in areas where carbon dioxide concentrations are higher, why not plant more trees and shrubbery in those areas and facilitate conversion to oxygen? It is apparent those promoting a green agenda have been oxygen deprived for too long...

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