The Cloud is a Rainmaker That Can Help You Go Green

Reduced costs, greater flexibility, access to expert resources and more — cloud services deliver an ever-growing array of tangible benefits to your business. What you may not realize is that using cloud-delivered managed services also can help your business “go green” and reduce its environmental impact.

Greenpeace published a report on “how companies are creating the green Internet,” and it included an eye-opening statistic: if “the cloud” were a country, it would rank sixth in the world in terms of electricity consumption, not far behind Russia and India. All of our Googling, video calling, and SaaS-ing requires a lot of network infrastructure, and every last bit of it has to be powered and temperature-controlled. The Greenpeace report also had some good news, though: many of the world’s largest data centers and cloud service providers (including Facebook, Microsoft, and Salesforce) are now running on renewable energy, or at least have implemented a long-term commitment to being 100% renewably powered.

Although cloud services as a whole do consume a good amount of energy, they’re still an environmentally-friendly choice. That’s because the portion of the service provider’s energy usage that’s attributed to your company’s services is quite small, particularly when compared to the amount of energy you’d use to run the same services yourself. If you want to calculate the exact difference, check out the Cloud Energy and Emissions Research (CLEER) Model at cleermodel.lbl.gov. Input the types of cloud services and data centers your business is currently using, as well as the devices you have on-premises (anything from network equipment to smartphones), and it will generate a detailed report on your energy usage and CO2 emissions.

To put the CLEER Model through its paces, I used its default industry averages and got some intriguing results; a small portion is shown in the graphs below. The purple bar indicates “present day” energy use with on-premises equipment, and the green bar is for the same level of usage through cloud services. In both cases, the cloud easily beats the premises in terms of energy efficiency.

Image: Sample data from CLEER Model report (cleermodel.lbl.gov)

So, although the cloud has the power requirements of a sub-continent, its distributed nature is its silver lining. By claiming your own small portion of the cloud, you’re helping to make the world – and your business – a greener place.

About the Author

Stacey Kendall is a Product Marketing Manager at TPx Communications. Her role is focused on marketing for TPx’s suite of Communications & Collaboration offerings, including the UCx Hosted Unified Communications Service and SmartVoice SIP Trunking. Stacey holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a specialization in Information Technology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She resides in the greater Boston area.