Cloud Computing Has Green ROI: Microsoft Study

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 11-04-2010 Print

By comparing on-premise business applications to cloud-based equivalents, the researchers found that cloud computing has positive effects on the environment, especially if you are a small company.

A Microsoft study bears out what environmentally conscious companies have hoped for all along: cloud computing has the potential to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by 30 percent or more. The study was commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy.

Large data centers, such as those run by tech giants Microsoft and Google, benefit from economies of scale and operational efficiencies, according to the study. Small businesses, of about 100 users, moving business applications away from on-site servers into the cloud can see net energy and carbon savings of more than 90 percent, the researchers wrote. For mid-sized organizations, of about 1,000 users, the savings were between 60 to 90 percent, according to the study.

Large enterprises are generally more efficient than their smaller countparts in managing server utilization and capacity, the researchers said, noting that they can increase the server capacity for an application during peak periods and decrease when not in use. Large public cloud environments are better at dynamic provisioning and can serve "millions of users" across many companies simultaneously on one "massive" shared infrastructure, according to the study.

The study focused on three commonly used Microsoft business applications: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 for e-mail, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 for content sharing, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the customer relationship management platform. Each on-premise product was compared with cloud-based equivalents: Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Researchers calculated the carbon footprint of server, networking and storage infrastructure for three different deployment sizes, of 100 users, 1,000 users, and 10,000 users. The study relied on actual data provided by Microsoft to estimate cloud-based energy use and carbon footprint.

The research team calculated that 32 percent of carbon emissions could be saved by moving 50,000 e-mail users in North America and Europe off individual Exchange servers and on to Microsoft Exchange Online.

For more, read the eWeek article Microsoft Study Finds Cloud Computing is Good for the Environment.

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