Eco-friendly computing options are among the world’s most pressing concerns in regards to the tech industry. According Jonathan Koomey, a consulting professor for Stanford University’s Civil Engineering department, cloud-computing data centers account for at least 1 to 2 percent of the world’s electricity consumption. But that claim fails to acknowledge the bigger picture that cloud services are dramatically changing the carbon footprint of the tech industry.
How it all Works:
Traditional methods of data management and delivery relied on local, physical servers that required a ton of electrical and processing power. It doesn’t take an environmental impact research professional to understand this isn’t necessarily a sustainable practice. The cloud uses large groups of networked servers to deliver and manage large-scale data sets over the Web. This eliminates the need for high-priced IT equipment, and allows an organization’s already stretched-thin IT staff to focus on more business-specific processes.
Three Cloud Computing Models:
1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):
IaaS providers allow companies to rent all equipment and resources related to infrastructural management. This includes everything from servers, to networking components, to operating systems. These resources are either used on an off-site location, or they are installed locally at the customer’s facility.
2. Platform as a Service (PaaS):
PaaS providers are more for companies that deploy Web applications on a regular basis. The PaaS providers offer servers, operating systems and applications that aid in developing, testing and deploying cloud applications quickly and efficiently.
3. Software as a Service (SaaS):
Lastly, the SaaS model allows users to access and use software applications over the Web. Instead of downloading an application to a physical hard disk, the user often pays a subscription fee to a cloud service in exchange for access to the app inside a cloud-based platform. Incidentally, the IaaS and PaaS models power the SaaS model.
The Green Benefits of Cloud Computing:
The most obvious benefit has to do with energy savings. Sharing hardware and software resources in the cloud means there’s no need for local server technology. Additionally, migrating document management into a cloud platform significantly reduces, if not eliminates, the need for paper in the office. Not only does the cloud reduce the need for energy and paper resources, but it also allows a business to boost efficiency without increasing overhead. In fact, cloud platform integration often reduces a company’s overall overhead in a significantly short amount of time.
The Eco-Friendly Cloud – The Numbers:
The results of multiple reports by research firms Accenture and the Carbon Disclosure Project both indicate that large, U.S.-based companies who adopt cloud technology are capable of reducing their carbon footprint by nearly 90 percent. The Carbon Disclosure Project report also predicted that by 2020 the U.S. cloud industry will have saved over $12 billion in energy savings, equaling over 200 million barrels of oil.
While cloud services offer an excellent resource for companies to reduce carbon emissions, cloud data management is far from the perfect eco-friendly computing solution. But the truth is, any organization would be hard-pressed to find a more energy-efficient solution for carrying out complex IT processes.