Adam Stern, CEO of Infinitely Virtual, says:

The biggest hurdle for most corporations attempting to reduce their carbon footprint is affordability.  For many businesses, making certain changes simply isn’t financially feasible, even if they’d like to embrace a greener business model. 

When making the move to cloud computing, the opposite is true.  Consider the ways cloud solutions can reduce carbon dioxide emissions: dynamic provisioning, multi-tenancy, server utilization, improved data center efficiency.  And all of these approaches are also cost-effective.  On average, corporations adding an in-house server will be saddled with 234 kilowatt hours (Kwh) a month.  That’s per server, and those servers are sitting idle more than 90 percent of the time, but drawing energy anyway.  Cooling that server at a PUE above 2.0 more than doubles that energy consumption. 500-plus KWh per server cannot compete with cloud-based servers sitting comfortably under 50 Kwh. 

CSPs accomplish this in several ways.  For one, costly idleness isn’t tolerated.  Thanks to dynamic provisioning (waste reduction via matching server capacity with demand) and multi-tenancy (the sharing of cloud computing facilities among both public and hybrid clouds), CSP servers are set up to work as close to capacity as possible.  Multi-tenancy, a major reason why cloud computing is so eco-friendly, has already made a real dent in the IT carbon footprint.  Given the thousands of businesses worldwide that are now sharing resources in the cloud instead of hemorrhaging energy and money with wasteful on-site data centers, CSPs are delivering both a greener environment and actual greenbacks.

Beyond energy conservation, phasing out in-house data centers is good news on the maintenance and manpower fronts.  The cost of upgrading IT hardware has long troubled CIOs who want to remain in the technology vanguard without breaking the bank.  And as in-house data centers grow, so must headcount; more IT specialists are required to keep everything running smoothly.  The cloud renders some of these concerns moot or at least far less burdensome.  (A smaller IT department also consumes less energy, whether in the data center itself or commuting to work.)  As a concern, hardware obsolescence itself becomes obsolete; companies embracing cloud-based solutions no longer need to worry about discarding outdated IT equipment.

All of this should be encouraging for businesses making the move to the cloud — and to their customers.  Given a choice, most of us prefer to work with organizations that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint.  Migrating to the cloud is a bottom-line decision that also happens to be a responsible choice for businesses that are genuinely concerned about the future of the environment.