Cloud Computing Can Cut Carbon Emissions by 30% to 90%

by | Nov 5, 2010

By moving business applications to cloud computing, large organizations can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions 30 percent or more compared to running those apps on their own infrastructure, according to a study released by Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy. The study also finds that small businesses can garner substantially higher savings.

The study, ” Cloud Computing and Sustainability: The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud,” finds that both large datacenters, such as those run by Microsoft, and small businesses can benefit by moving their applications to the cloud. Larger datacenters largely benefit from economies of scale and operational efficiencies beyond what is typically found in on-premise IT infrastructures, according to the report.

The study results focused on three commonly used Microsoft applications for e-mail, content sharing and customer relationship management: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM with their cloud-based equivalents — Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

The study evaluated 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 moving their business applications to a cloud environment, according to researchers.

When small organizations (100 users) move to the cloud from their own local servers, the study finds that they can reduce their carbon emissions by up to 90 percent. Medium-sized companies (1000 users) can save up to 30 to 60 percent, while larger corporations still see significant savings, cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions 30 percent or more.

A case study with a large consumer-goods company indicates that 32 percent of emissions could be saved by moving 50,000 e-mail users in North America and Europe to Microsoft’s cloud.

The study finds that there are four key factors for the savings: dynamic provisioning (better matching of server capacity to ongoing demand), multi-tenancy (massive shared infrastructure), server utilization (performing higher workloads with a smaller infrastructure footprint), and datacenter efficiency (designs minimize energy use per given amount of computing power).

While many organizations could address some of these factors in their own datacenters to decrease energy use and emissions, the study suggests that large, public cloud infrastructures are better positioned to help reduce the environmental impact of IT through efficiency and economies of scale.

The study was commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy.

Stay Informed

Get E+E Leader Articles delivered via Newsletter right to your inbox!

Share This