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Cloud Computing: The Latest in Tech Also Has Hidden Environmental Benefits

Image credit: Dell

Looking for ways to reduce your company’s environmental impact? While cloud computing may not seem all that eco-friendly at first glance, a closer look reveals a number of benefits. surprisingly, the answer to that question may very well be yes. Recent studies have shown that a large enterprise that moves its HR application to the public cloud can, in five years, cut its CO2 emissions by as much as 30,000 metric tons. This amount is about the same as you would get if you took 5900 cars off the road.

Here are some of the ways that the cloud can help your organization cut its carbon footprint down to size:

Energy Savings

Moving to the cloud can mean big energy savings for your business — both in direct power costs and indirect measures, such as the reduced need for shipping and manufacturing.

  • Fewer machines — In many small business and corporate environments, server utilization rates hover around 5 or 10%. This means that you need more servers to get the same amount of work done. With the cloud, utilization rates are typically 60-70% — shared data centers can employ fewer machines to get an equivalent capacity.
  • Consolidated climate control costs — In order for a server to run at peak performance, its temperature and humidity level must be carefully controlled. Cloud providers can take advantage of efficient layouts such as rack-first that are hard for in-house centers to replicate.
  • Efficient equipment — Larger data centers often have the resources to allow them to upgrade to energy-saving equipment and building systems. This is usually not possible in smaller organizations where this efficiency is not the focus.
  • Dynamically allocated resources — In-house data centers need extra servers to handle peak data loads. Cloud providers can dynamically allocate resources where necessary so there are fewer machines sitting idle.

Going green with cloud computing

Click image for full infographic.

Questions to Ask Your Cloud Provider

Not all cloud providers are created equal. Some are better at implementing these green practices than others. In order to determine whether your cloud provider is doing its part you can ask the following questions:

  • Do they use renewable resources? Are they wholly or partly powered by solar, wind or geothermal energy? Are they taking steps to move towards more earth-friendly power sources?
  • Are their data centers designed for maximum efficiency? Do they take advantage of efficient data center design? Do they have or are they working toward LEED certification, Energy Star recognition or achievement of other sustainability standards?
  • What are their server utilization rates? Do they take advantage of virtualization strategies to decrease the number of servers they must run?

If your provider can answer most of these questions positively, you’re on the right track to taking advantage of the cloud as a planet-saving technology.

Do you use the cloud or other green technologies in your business? What are some of your other strategies for making your organization more earth-friendly? Share with us below.


Matt Smith works for Dell and has a passion for learning and writing about technology. Outside of work he enjoys entrepreneurship, being with his family, and the outdoors.

[Read more about Matt Smith]


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