2Cloud computing—large-scale, sharedIT infrastructure available over theinternet—is transforming the waycorporate IT services are delivered andmanaged.To assess the environmental impact of cloud computing, Microsoft engagedwith Accenture—a leading technology,consulting and outsourcing company—and WSP Environment & Energy—aglobal consultancy dedicated toenvironmental and sustainabilityissues—to compare the energy useand carbon footprint of Microsoftcloud offerings for businesses withcorresponding Microsoft on-premisedeployments.The analysis focused on three of Microsoft’s mainstream businessapplications—Microsoft Exchange®,Microsoft SharePoint® and MicrosoftDynamics® CRM. Each applicationis available both as an on-premiseversion and as a cloud-basedequivalent.
The team comparedthe environmental impact of cloud-based vs. on-premise IT delivery ona per-user basis and considered threedifferent deployment sizes—small(100 users), medium (1,000 users)and large (10,000 users).The study found that, for largedeployments, Microsoft’s cloudsolutions can reduce energy useand carbon emissions by more than30 percent when compared to theircorresponding Microsoft businessapplications installed on-premise.The benefits are even more impressivefor small deployments: Energy useand emissions can be reduced bymore than 90 percent with a sharedcloud service.Several key factors enable cloudcomputing to lower energy useand carbon emissions from IT:•
Reducingwasted computing resourcesthrough better matching of servercapacity with actual demand.•
Flattening relativepeak loads by serving large numbersof organizations and users onshared infrastructure.•
Operatingservers at higher utilization rates.•
Data Center Efciency:
Utilizingadvanced data center infrastructuredesigns that reduce power lossthrough improved cooling, powerconditioning, etc.Though large organizations canlower energy use and emissionsby addressing some of these factorsin their own data centers, providersof public cloud infrastructure arebest positioned to reduce theenvironmental impact of IT because of their scale. By moving applications tocloud services offered by Microsoftor other providers, IT decision-makers can take advantageof highly efficient cloudinfrastructure, effectively“outsourcing” their IT efficiencyinvestments while helping theircompany achieve its sustainabilitygoals. Beyond the commonly citedbenefits of cloud computing—such as cost savings and increasedagility—cloud computing has thepotential to significantly reducethe carbon footprint of manybusiness applications.
The cloud’sunprecedented economiesof scale reduce overallcost and increaseefficiencies, especiallywhen replacing anorganization’s locallyoperated on-premise
servers. But does thisadvantage also translateto environmentalbenefits?