Google Apps for Gov saves how much in energy costs?

Agencies can achieve energy savings of up to 87 percent by moving applications to the cloud — more specifically, to Google Apps, according to a new report released by Google.

A typical company or organization that migrates to the cloud could save 68 to 87 percent in energy for its office computing and reduce similar amounts of carbon emission based upon analysis by Google, according to the report, titled "Google Apps: Energy Efficiency in the Cloud."

These findings are consistent with a case study presented in the report of the actual savings achieved by the General Services Administration, which moved 17,000 employees to Google Apps for Government, Google officials said.

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By switching to Google Apps, GSA reduced server energy consumption by nearly 90 percent and carbon emissions by 85 percent. “We estimate the cost savings from this reduction in energy use will be $285,000 annually, a 93 percent reduction,” the paper states.

Scott Renda, portfolio manager for cloud computing with the Office of Management and Budget, cited similar figures during a recent National Institute of Standards and Technology Cloud Computing Forum. By managing power settings through a cloud-based solution, GSA not only achieves cost savings, but more important, the agency reduced its carbon footprint by 4.8 million carbon pounds per year, he said.

“Last year, we crunched the numbers and found that Gmail is up to 80 times more energy-efficient than running traditional in-house e-mail,” Urs Hoelzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure, wrote in a June 18 blog entry.

“We’ve sharpened our pencils again to see how Google Apps as whole — documents, spreadsheets, e-mail and other applications — stacks up against the standard model of locally hosted services,” he wrote.

Achieving energy efficiency comes down to reducing energy use for servers and server cooling, Hoelzle said. “A typical organization has a lot more servers than it needs — for backup, failures and spikes in demand for computing,” he said.

For example, before moving to Google Apps, GSA operated 324 servers for e-mail and collaboration. Now the agency operates 61. Total direct power of GSA servers has been reduced from 163 to 22 kilowatts, the paper states.

Cloud-based service providers such as Google aggregate demand across thousands of people, substantially increasing server utilization, Hoelzle said. Google’s data centers use equipment and software specially designed to minimize energy use. The cloud can do the same work much more efficiently than locally hosted servers, he added.

A study by the Carbon Disclosure Project states that by migrating to the cloud, companies in the United States and Europe with more than $1 billion in revenues could achieve substantial reductions in energy costs and carbon emissions by 2020, Hoelzle said.

For example, U.S. companies could save $12.3 billion and up to 85.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide with the move to the cloud. “This suggests that cloud computing can in fact be seen as part of the solution towards a more energy efficient future,” the paper states.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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