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Highlighting the benefits of Cloud Computing

A study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by WSP USA and Accenture revealed that businesses choosing to run their applications through ‘cloud computing’ (large-scale Information Technology (IT) infrastructure available over the internet), could reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by a net of 30% or more, compared to using traditional on-site server rooms.

Sustainability continues to gain importance as a performance indicator for organizations and their IT departments.  Corporate sustainability officers, regulators and other stakeholders have become increasingly focused on IT’s carbon footprint. Microsoft is aware that organizations are placing emphasis on developing long-term strategies to reduce their carbon footprint through more sustainable operations and products, so positioning the ‘cloud’ as a sustainable route for IT processes is key to their service offering.

Built upon previous analysis, Microsoft, Accenture and WSP developed a quantitative model to calculate the energy use and carbon footprint of an organization’s IT applications for both cloud and on-premise deployment.  This approach is aligned with the assessment methodology developed by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), the industry consortium promoting sustainability on behalf of leading IT companies.

This study enabled Microsoft to publish a White Paper and generate a highly effective public relations campaign stating that cloud computing has enormous potential to transform the work of the IT world by reducing costs, improving efficiency and business agility, and contributing to a more sustainable world by significantly reducing energy consumption.

The model quantifies energy use and carbon emissions on a per-user basis.  To account for the fact that on-premise server accounts do not follow a linear scale as user accounts increase, the research analyzed the impact among three different sizes of user groups: small (100 users), medium (1,000 users), and larger (10,000 users).  When smaller organizations switch to cloud computing, carbon emissions are likely to be 90% lower; larger companies typically see a 30% savings.