New Research Gives Hard Numbers on How Cloud Computing Improves Environment

The study assessed the carbon footprint of server, networking and storage infrastructure for three different deployment sizes.

Researchers are now compiling hard numbers that prove running enterprise applications in the cloud actually does complete a data center triple play by reducing costs, use of electricity and carbon emissions.

A new study conducted on behalf of Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy released Nov. 4 shows enterprises running business applications in the cloud can cut energy consumption and carbon emissions by a net 30 percent or more as opposed to running that same software on their own infrastructure.

Large data centers, such as those run by Microsoft, IBM, Google, Yahoo, Fujitsu and others, can benefit greatly from economies of scale and operational efficiencies beyond what corporate IT departments can achieve, the study reported.

Benefits can become even more pronounced for a small business moving to the cloud, where the net energy and carbon savings can be more than 90 percent, the study said.

The study results focused on three widely deployed and commonly used Microsoft applications-Exchange, SharePoint and CRM software.

The study assessed the carbon footprint of server, networking and storage infrastructure for three different deployment sizes (100, 1,000 and 10,000 users), finding that the smaller the organization, the larger the benefit of switching to the cloud.

Finally, the research showed that lower energy use and carbon emissions enabled by the cloud stem from a number of key factors:

  • Dynamic provisioning: Large operations enable better matching of server capacity to demand on an ongoing basis.
  • Multitenancy: Large public cloud environments are able to serve millions of users at thousands of companies simultaneously on one massive shared infrastructure.
  • Server utilization: Cloud providers can drive efficiencies by increasing the portion of a server's capacity that an application actively uses, thereby performing higher workloads with a smaller infrastructure footprint.
  • Data center efficiency: Through innovation and continuous improvement, cloud providers are leading the way in designing, building and operating data centers that minimize energy use for a given amount of computing power.

"The study's findings confirm what many organizations, large and small, have already discovered: Cloud computing is more economical and IT resources are used more efficiently when business applications such as these are run in a shared environment," Accenture Manager of Cloud Services Manager James Harris said.

"That's because, among other benefits, cloud computing delivers multiple efficiencies and economies of scale, which contribute to the reduction of energy consumption per unit of work, thereby helping to significantly reduce carbon."

A whitepaper featuring details of this study is now available for download.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...