Cutting Carbon and Energy Consumption with the Cloud

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Senior Manager, Corporate Blogs

In a new article in Sustainable Industries Magazine, Microsoft Chief Environmental Strategist Rob Bernard wrote about a study that explored the potential for cloud computing to cut down on carbon emissions and reduce energy consumption at large data centers.

Commissioned by Microsoft and carried out by Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy, the study “found that across the board, organizations could save energy and carbon by switching to the cloud and the smaller the organization, the larger the benefit. When small organizations (up to 100 users) move to the cloud, the study predicted an effective carbon footprint reduction of up to 90 percent over using local servers. For large corporations, the predicted savings were typically 30 percent or more.”

What accounts for these savings? In many businesses today, applications often run on servers that typically use only about 10 percent of their capacity, with lots of energy wasted. Significant savings are possible when companies move those applications to data centers optimized for energy efficiency and repurpose or retire their little used servers.

A good analogy for this, as Bernard points out in his Sustainable Industries story, is mass transit, where the energy savings from moving thousands of people around on shared infrastructure instead of single-occupancy vehicles has a significant environmental impact. The same is true in cloud computing. We can realize huge economies of scale that result in real energy savings as more services move to the cloud.

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Microsoft News Center Staff