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How Green is the Cloud?

How green can cloud computing make your business?

What will you be doing five years from now? Adding to the greenhouse effect or using 'chicken coop' inspired technology to reduce your carbon footprint?

A recent study by Microsoft revealed that small businesses could reduce their carbon footprint by a staggering 90% by adopting cloud technology. With this in mind, one of the most environmentally-friendly decisions your business makes could be the move to cloud computing.

Cloud technology offers a huge number of benefits, from reduced costs to increased efficiency. But it’s also becoming increasingly popular for its environmental credentials.

Let’s take a look at the various ways the cloud is cutting the carbon footprint of businesses all over the world, and helping them to become greener in lots of different ways…

Less commuting, less fuel

Cloud technology has made it easy for businesses to adopt ‘remote working’; where employees work from home when convenient, with all the technologies that are normally available to them in the office. This environmentally-friendly way of working means less commuting, therefore less fuel emissions and a smaller carbon footprint for the business in question.

Less paper, more trees

In a traditional office, paper wastage and excessive document printing are the norm, so you’ll be doing the forests a huge favor by embracing cloud technology and stepping into a virtual office. With cloud computing, all your information is accessible via the internet which does away with the need for printed reports, announcements, financial data and even brochures. Will you need to print anything ever again? Do you even need a printer?

Less equipment, less energy

With the cloud, a business no longer needs to purchase hardware and systems that need round-the-clock maintenance. This can make a huge difference in terms of energy usage. Research has shown that small office-based organisations with in-house server rooms can direct as much as 30% of their electricity consumption toward powering and cooling servers. Converting to cloud computing not only cuts down on energy consumption (good for the environment), but can also slash the cost of those monthly utility bills (good for the cash flow of any business).

How green is the future?

According to market research conducted by Pike Research, the wide-spread adoption of cloud computing could lead to a potential 38% reduction in worldwide data center energy expenditures by 2020.

Businesses that use cloud technology are increasingly demanding greener services, and forward-thinking cloud providers are coming up with creative ways of powering the cloud without harming the environment.

Green Earth Data and GreenQloud for example, are two Icelandic companies who look to be leading the way in reducing carbon emissions from cloud data centers. Both claim to offer 100% renewable energy, and have data centers powered by geothermal and hydropower resources.

Then there’s Yahoo’s ‘chicken-coop’ inspired data center in upstate New York which uses outside air rather than power-greedy chillers for its cooling and air conditioning. This lack of mechanical air conditioning means that the data center uses around 40 percent less power than average and a hugely impressive 95 percent less water!

Will these kind of environmentally-friendly data centers catch on with other cloud providers around the world? It would certainly be nice to think so. In the meantime though, there’s no doubt that the cloud can offer significant environmental benefits and a boost to the ‘green credentials’ of businesses of all sizes.


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