Microsoft Cloud delivers when it comes to energy efficiency and carbon-emission reductions, study finds

By Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist, and Christian Belady, General Manager, Cloud Infrastructure Strategy and Architecture

Organizations mindful about energy, carbon and sustainability should consider moving on-premises datacenters to the Microsoft Cloud – that’s the top line takeaway from a new report released today.

It found that Microsoft Cloud services[i] are up to 93 percent more energy efficient and up to 98 percent more carbon efficient than traditional enterprise datacenters. To put that into context, if just 20 percent of the existing U.S. on-premises market moved to the Microsoft Cloud, it would be equivalent to reducing the city-wide emissions of Seattle, Washington or Torino, Italy. Across every scenario, and even compared to virtualized, high-end datacenters, the Microsoft Cloud is delivering big gains in energy efficiency and reductions in carbon emissions.

These numbers are the result of years of work and focus to make our datacenters and cloud services best in class, and that includes substantial investments in sustainability.

Chart about Microsoft Cloud energy efficiency

Over the years, we’ve worked hard to make our datacenters and cloud services as efficient as possible. That starts with designing our IT with efficiency in mind, including faster, more efficient chips that can do more using less energy, and open source development to share our designs and learn from others through the Open Compute Project.  We have also invested in sustainable datacenter design and operations, achieving economies of scale and maximizing the efficiency of our datacenter infrastructure itself. But efficiency alone can only do so much, which is why we’ve committed to powering our datacenters with more renewable energy each year – we now have renewable energy projects in three continents, totaling nearly 1.2 gigawatts.

We’re excited about the results, but we know there is much more work to do. This report compares us only against on-premises solutions. In many circles, the advantages of the cloud versus on-premises datacenters have already been settled and there are not as many on-premises-only solutions in 2018 as there were in 2010. But the shift is far from over – Cisco estimates that cloud services could account for as much as 95 percent of datacenter traffic in three years’ time, and that will be powered by double the amount of hyperscale datacenters around the globe.

To Microsoft, this means two important things. First, we need to continue to measure and manage the environmental impact of our cloud service offerings, and we will. Second, operating our datacenters more efficiently is good for our business, our customers and the planet – and as a leading cloud provider, the decisions we make to increase efficiency and reduce emissions will have a global impact.

The global cloud we are building is part of our lasting legacy as Microsoft. It’s an obligation to operate responsibly, including delivering more efficient and sustainable cloud offerings to our customers, who increasingly expect to trust the environmental performance of their cloud provider. We really see this as an opportunity for Microsoft to use our scale and buying power to drive change in our operations and beyond.

While the cloud has grown exponentially, it’s important to keep in mind that we’re still in early days for the industry. The advances we’ve pioneered and witnessed in just the past few years are just the beginning. As you are considering your move to the cloud, or how to consolidate your cloud services, or even which cloud provider you are using, you should know this – the datacenters powering the Microsoft Cloud will provide the high availability, resiliency and security you need, and the energy efficiency and carbon savings you want. We’re looking forward to a greener future, and to working with you to achieve it.

Learn more about the report here: The Carbon Benefits of Cloud Computing: A Study on the Microsoft Cloud

Learn more about Microsoft’s global datacenters here:

[i] The calculation includes Azure Storage, Azure Compute, Exchange and SharePoint – services that are among largest energy users in our own datacenters – and was evaluated against a wide range of on-premises scenarios.



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