Can cloud computing help reduce global warming?

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There is a steady move towards cloud computing, both Apple and Microsoft are nudging their users towards it in different ways;

Apple via iCloud which is in its infancy, but has some potential. This however is currently based around machine based apps for word processing and similar, and only carries data.

Microsoft on the other hand is moving towards cloud based application use – Word, Excel etc accessed directly from their servers so that software is not PC based. This is perhaps more related to them trying to control pirated software than for our benifit though!

Is there a ‘green’ side to cloud computing though?

A study carried out late last year that focussed on large IT companies in France and the UK found that they could achieve large cost savings and carbon reductions by 2020 if they migrated their data storage operations to the cloud. The suggestion was that they could reduce their carbon emissions by up to 50%!

The study follows a recent forecast that use of cloud services could triple in the next two years, a fact that has  been backed up by a number of blue chip companies indicating that they intend to move to cloud solutions far quicker than many had thought. Obviously cost saving is the main aim – but a drop in carbon emissions has to be a positive side effect.

Cloud computing allows companies to reduce costs by buying less hardware and using servers located elsewhere to store, manage and process data. The report suggests that by 2020, large UK companies that use cloud computing could achieve annual energy savings of £1.2 billion and carbon reductions equivalent to the annual emissions of over 4 million passenger vehicles – figures not to be sniffed at.

And if your server farm is in a country that has lower emission electricity such as France, (where nuclear plants generate the bulk of electricity), that figure can be much lower.

So as we place more and more data in the cloud we can actually reduce our carbon footprint!


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