17 May

How the Cloud Helps Businesses Go Green

Many companies have installed recycling bins in their break rooms and spent thousands of dollars on enterprise document management technology to help reduce reliance on paper throughout the office. These initiatives are a great place to start when creating an eco-friendly workplace, but they overlook one of the biggest steps organizations can take to reduce their impact on the environment: cloud computing.

Cloud services are often noted for their scalability, cost savings and collaboration, but their positive influence on the environment typically merits only a cursory glance during strategic IT planning sessions. This does a disservice to an important part of the benefits package cloud computing brings to the table. 


Businesses Can Calculate Their Footprint 

To give organizations an idea of how cloud-based applications can reduce their overall energy consumption and carbon footprint, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab created a free online tool called the Cloud Energy and Emissions Research (CLEER) Model. It enables users to calculate the greenhouse gas and net energy of their current systems and compare it to a comparable cloud computing set up. 

According to Scientific American, during a CLEER study, researchers found that if all American businesses moved their email programs, customer management software and spreadsheet apps to off-site servers, their computing energy footprints would decrease by 87 percent. This is equivalent to the 23 billion kilowatt-hours that Los Angeles consumes every year.


Green Computing Is “Cool”

Shared data centers reduce the number of physical machines required to achieve an equal amount of reliable computing capacity. In addition, cloud computing is incredibly energy-efficient. In fact, a 2011 study by the Carbon Disclosure Project demonstrated that cloud computing could save up to $12.3 billion a year by 2020. 

Microsoft is ready to test that theory with a new initiative to build several underwater data centers in the next few years. Microsoft plans to place self-contained data centers hundreds of feet below sea level to eliminate the need for air conditioning units to cool the servers, which is one of the biggest costs associated with operating servers on land, according to International Business Times. Microsoft hopes that the naturally cold environment of the ocean and energy savings will continue to boost the adoption of cloud computing by businesses worldwide. 

Although most businesses can’t adopt such large-scale cloud strategies no matter how ambitious their commitment to the environment is, cloud service providers offer plenty of readily-accessible options that can put them on the right path. This is a great way for businesses to fulfill their social responsibilities to their fullest extent.

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