A Greener Cloud for All ITNovember 30, 2010
It’s taken as an article of faith that cloud computing will reduce greenhouse emissions across the IT industry. However, there has been very little analysis with regard to shifting the environmental burden from the enterprise to a dedicated cloud industry.
But now it looks like some hard data is finally available. Microsoft recently commissioned Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy to examine how the cloud would benefit Windows environments. The results were highly encouraging. The groups found out that shifting loads from widely used Microsoft applications like SharePoint and Exchange to the cloud could produce savings ranging from 30 percent to 90 percent depending on the size of the enterprise and other factors. That translates into direct savings for the individual enterprise and a wholesale reduction in energy consumption/carbon emissions across the board.
Much of the savings is based on how effective the cloud provider is at resource sharing and other techniques designed to increase economies of scale for their hardware and software infrastructure. A basic cloud toolkit should include capabilities like dynamic provisioning, multi-tenancy and resource pooling with an eye toward boosting utilization rates into the 70 percent range, as opposed to the 5 to 10 percent range for most enterprise data centers.
Migrating to the cloud could provide an even bigger bonus for project-oriented businesses like construction, according to ConstructionDigital.. Whenever you have multiple groups seeking access to data at the same time, a dynamic, easily configurable infrastructure will always be more efficient than sets of static resources. Not only would construction firms benefit from increased productivity, but they would save quite a bit of green by reducing paper, printing and courier costs.
Of course, the bigger you are, the greater your savings – a fact that has not been lost on top government officials. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) have devised a new Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) that seeks to foster cloud computing and other developments in an effort to reduce the number of federal data centers around the world. Estimates hold that potential savings could top $14 billion.
Clearly, there are other considerations to cloud computing related to energy consumption, and it’s doubtful that even mid-size enterprises will become all-cloud operations anytime soon. But at least the IT industry can rest comfortably knowing that new technologies are on the cusp of producing a low-cost, green alternative to increasingly cumbersome internal IT infrastructure.