Go Cloud, Save the World Part 2

Written by: Jason Meilleur
Published: October 14, 2011



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    Help Save the World

    According to clean tech market research and consulting firm Pike Research, the delirious reassignment of corporations’ computing operations from in-house equipment to the cloud could well prove a boon to more than just the bottom line of the business in question.

    With more and more organizations opting to store their data on cloud computing systems rather than under their own roofs, outsourcing data centres are springing up like mushrooms to answer the demand. That development, say the folks at this Colorado-based thinktank, spins off into all kinds of good stuff, including savings in manpower, savings in money and—here’s where the world’s interests kick in—savings in energy. Indeed, say the analysts behind the research, this cloud business could help reduce the world’s energy costs by almost a third over the next decade.

    First up, the stuff that lines the pockets.

    Revenue from these proliferating data centres, predicts the new research, will inflate to a compound annual growth rate over the next decade of 29%. In hard numbers, that means a revenue climb from $46 billion in 2009 to $210.3 billion in 2015. More than that, says the report—titled “Cloud Computing Energy Efficiency”—new investments in the stuff will continue to spur greater efficiency for those dollars spent.

    Indeed, Pike Research’s analysis suggests that, absent the cloud, only the very largest commercial or governmental organizations would have the capital and expertise required to achieve the same kind of efficiency at a comparable cost.

    Green Shoots

    But it’s the trending transformation of another kind of green, says Pike’s senior analyst Eric Woods, that’s even more impressive.

    “Cloud computing revenue will grow strongly over the next decade,” Woods says. “But the reduction in energy consumption will be even more significant.”

    Pike forecasts that, if the world continues along its current cloud-computing adoption curve, overall data centre energy consumption will be slashed by a dramatic 31% in the period between 2010 and 2020.

    This news comes on the heels of other publicly stated initiatives that acknowledge the wasteful footprint of the globe’s infinite IT goings on. Facebook, for one, recently announced that it intends to make public the details of its data centres such that others might benefit from this massive operation’s evolving understanding of energy efficiency. According to the social media giant, the servers in its refurbished data house—which apparently took two years and tens of millions of dollars to complete—run 38% more efficiently, and 24% less expensively, than those in their comparable peers.

    One Centre, Less Energy

    Simply put, goes the report, clouds are better utilized and less expensive to operate than traditional, siloed data repositories are. The more disparate operations they take in under their generous eaves, the more efficiently is this channel of energy expended.

    And all signs point to a continued drift in this direction. As increasingly more of the work that was conventionally performed in internal data centres is consigned to the cloud, the world’s basket of energy consumption, associated energy expenses and greenhouse gas emissions suffers ever fewer hands dipping into its bounty.

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