Green Is Good: How the Cloud Helps Save the Planet

Improving the environment through the cloud

A move to the cloud is often based upon cost savings, security, and compliance. But there’s another benefit that few may think about—the benefit to our planet. According to a survey sponsored by Microsoft Europe and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), cloud computing has the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 16.5%.

Let’s face it, IT has never been very environmentally friendly. Computers, and the technology associated with them, use a large amount of energy, are created from components mined in third-world countries, and eventually wind up in a landfill (every time a new product is released, this is where the old ones go). Despite this, many companies don’t pay much attention to the concept of sustainable technology, believing that because they don’t produce any toxic materials, their operations have no impact on the environment in any significant way. However, the fact is that every time an employee turns on an office computer or prints out a document, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, increasing the company’s carbon footprint. But this is all changing with the rapid adoption of cloud computing.

On-Site Servers and Energy Waste

Companies housing their data on their own premises often waste a large amount of energy. Computers and servers may be constantly running, and are generally not used to their full potential for storage. In addition, organizations with on-site servers often purchase multiple versions of software leading to eventual waste. And when it’s time to scale up? More machines are purchased, adding to the company’s collection of servers and increasing their energy usage.

How Data Centers Reduce Energy Consumption

While the average company managing their own data could be harmful to the environment, many of today’s data centers are reducing the number of servers that they use, therefore reducing energy consumption. How is this possible? Well, servers utilized by data centers have become much more powerful and efficient, and expert cloud providers have discovered ways to use more of each server’s capacity. This is largely due to server virtualization, which allows one physical server to host numerous virtual servers.

Server virtualization is enabling data centers to do each of the following:

  • Match server capacity to demand on an ongoing basis
  • Serve millions of users at thousands of companies simultaneously on one shared infrastructure
  • Drive efficiencies by increasing the part of a server’s capacity that an application actively uses to perform larger workloads, while leaving a smaller infrastructure footprint

Also, according to the Department of Energy (DOE), data center servers have begun to reduce power consumption when operating idle or at low utilization, and the underlying data center power and cooling infrastructure has also become more efficient.

Green is also Good for Business

While moving to the cloud is good for the environment, it may also prove to be good for business. A recent Nielsen global online study found that Millennials, the largest generation in American history, are more than willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings—by nearly 75%. Generation Z, those born between 1995 and 2005, aren’t far behind. Respondents among this group say they are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies committed to making a positive environmental impact.

“Brands that establish a reputation for environmental stewardship among today’s youngest consumers have an opportunity to not only grow market share but build loyalty among the power-spending Millennials of tomorrow, too,” says Grace Farraj, Senior Vice President of Public Development & Sustainability at Nielsen.

Cutting the Carbon Footprint

The impact of the cloud on CO2 emissions is potentially huge, and offers companies the ability to reduce their energy consumption by up to 95% and cut utility costs by up to 90%. If that isn’t incentive enough, going green can also help grow your business by attracting the younger generations who are highly concerned about the future of our planet. Ready to do your part for the environment? DSM, Florida’s preferred cloud provider, can make your move to the cloud easy. Contact one of our IT pros today to learn more.

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