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Cloud computing is one of those new buzzwords in the business world. It’s article galore on everything from what it is to how secure it is, from what to ask a potential cloud vendor to the risk and benefits of cloud storage. But, a new questions that’s arising about this new technology is how green it is. Can it help a company reduce its energy consumption? Does it really reduce the need for hardware, thus reducing the need for additional consumption and the creation of waste?
“Cloud computing is on-demand access to a virtualized, dynamically-scalable computing environment,” said Russ Bryant, Vice President of Technology and Operations with Datotel, a cloud computing firm based in St. Louis. “I think it is a green technology, because it’s the greenest option in terms of energy consumption. Cloud computing can help better utilize physical resources”
Bryant said that the old paradigm is buying resources that weren’t always efficiently used, such as the servers themselves. An example that he used was a data center at a business, where the company would have to dedicate a room to the servers, as well as pay for the heating and the cooling of that room. For example, one server costs anywhere between $200 and $400 per month to operate, but it only 10 to 20 percent utilized.
“That’s such a waste,” Bryant said. “With cloud computing, you outsource the IT to a firm like Datotel. Our servers are at 70 percent utilization, so our energy is more optimized versus a company that is handling it themselves.
Bryant also pointed out that having the IT and data in house may not be the best use of internal resources. If you’re a florist, outsourcing the IT would help you to focus on more important business needs, instead of managing the data center.
“Moving to the cloud reduces your energy costs in the long run,” Bryant said. The advantage is that companies like Datotel are already spending the time and money to manage data and servers as efficiently as possible. A better option is to have your computing environment hosted and managed by a company that continually pursues best practices.
Even so, cloud computing is an emerging technology, and can get greener. There is little study that provides specific numbers on what kind of savings or energy output cloud computing has. Therefore, there is the possibility of the technology being able to get greener and for its energy efficiency to be improved. However, there are studies that show that a company making the switch to cloud computing can reduce its energy consumption by up to 90 percent! A report from Microsoft that cloud computing drives energy reductions in four related ways:
- Reducing excess capacity
- Flattening peak loads
- Employing large-scale “virtualization” software
- Improving data center design
Unless a floral shop can really do that, then those small and mid-sized businesses looking to cut their energy costs ought to outsource these processes to companies like Datotel, a business that revolves around optimizing these things in its data center. Indeed, cloud computing can be a green technology, when done right.
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