Why is Cloud Computing Green?

The promised IaaS article is currently in progress. I blame the delay on my friend Greg from the Green industry :).

Last week, I met up with Greg and gave him my usual cool-aid cloud speech on cloud savings, scalability, built in reliability, disaster recovery and security. He looked at me and said, “that sounds exciting” but looking at his facial expression there did not seem to be much excitement, so to get some life out of him, I said, “of course there is significant energy savings!”  Now “Green” Greg sparked to life and for the next two hours all he wanted to hear were details on how cloud saves energy.

When making the decision whether an organization is ready or not for adopting cloud technologies, most people will take into consideration aspects such us financial savings, how well it suits their company, and how much it will simplify the IT processes, etc.

What many decision makers do not take into account happens to be a great benefit of cloud computing: it is green! Cloud computing comes with the great advantage of providing great energy savings, a fact which translates into being environmentally friendly.

Are you aware of how much energy IT systems consume and what impact they have on the environment? Did you know that the simple act of performing a Google search can be quantified in terms of carbon footprints? It is easy to imagine then that the maintenance of complex IT infrastructures consumes a significant amount of energy.

According to Gartner, the IT industry consumes at least 2% of all global energy use. Since IT processes have negative effects in the real world, you might want to consider minimizing those by taking into account the implementation of cloud computing. Yes, another great reason to do so…

Here are just a few motives why cloud computing technologies are more environmentally friendly than other types of IT infrastructures and how they contribute to sustainable living:

  • Recent studies have demonstrated that the environmental footprint of using cloud computing as compared to having an internal IT system can be reduced by 90%. This is definitely the case in my experience: with a recent IT migration to SaaS, I have been able to eliminate over 55 servers, onsite backup and cooling systems, thus saving over $700 a month by reducing servers, Storage Area Networks and cooling systems.
  • Data centers that utilize Cloud technologies are more efficient than traditional data centers. Energy is usually lost though server underutilization, because most of the time these servers are just in idle mode, but in a cloud environment the system is managed to run at the highest efficiency.  It would be like 80 trucks driving down the road, all driving to the same location and each carrying 1% of their capacity, instead of one truck loaded up with 80% capacity. In this scenario, the remaining 79 trucks are just wasting energy.
  • In addition, data center planning allows better power utilization. In traditional data centers, there can be cooling problems and you can run out of space for more servers. There is also a consortium of cloud providers – the Green Grid – , which assures that its members optimize their data centers to minimize power consumption.
  • According to a recent Microsoft report, cloud computing can help with energy reductions through the employing of large scale virtualization. Also, software architecture can be optimized so that it provides the same functionality with less energy.
  • Service providers in cloud computing need to keep their expenses down, so they must ensure there is no waste of energy. Their focus is on performance so they provide the maximum of services with the least resources, energy included, which ultimately results in lower costs to you, the customer.

In the last years, technology has improved immensely, taking the environment into account and providing a solution for those worrying about carbon footprints and the impact of technology into the environment. And with the booming development of cloud computing technologies, now it is easier to do so.

Achieving energy savings and carbon emissions reduction is possible with the help of technologies such as SaaS, IaaS and PaaS and the on demand allocation of resources in cloud computing.

“Green” Greg now feels much better about the cloud! :) For those of you who have implemented these technologies, how much did the estimated energy savings impact the decision to do so? Are you interested in knowing how you can calculate energy savings?

Photo source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1391613.

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6 Responses to “Why is Cloud Computing Green?”

  1. Simon Munro says:

    While datacentres themselves may become more efficient the consumption also increases. So the green credentials take a hammering because of (unnecessary) consumption. Have a look at this post http://consultingblogs.emc.com/simonmunro/archive/2010/01/12/environmentally-unfriendly-side-effects-of-cloud-computing.aspx and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox

  2. Thank you, Simon, interesting resources!

  3. [...] If you are interested on the impact of your business on the environment, then you should know that cloud computing is green. Make sure that the cloud provider you pick is a member of The Green [...]

  4. [...] I found some interesting info on how Cloud Computing is making things greener. the full story is here: http://www.rickscloud.com/why-is-cloud-computing-green/ [...]

  5. [...] If you are interested on the impact of your business on the environment, then you should know that cloud computing is green. Make sure that the cloud provider you pick is a member of The Green [...]

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