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Study for salesforce.com reveals huge carbon emissions savings from cloud computing

WSP has completed a leading-edge study for salesforce.com, the enterprise cloud computing company, that reveals that salesforce.com customers emit 95% less carbon, on average, by using the ‘cloud’ than companies running comparable on premises systems.


Our study also concluded that massively scalable, multitenant cloud platforms are on average 64% more carbon-efficient than so-called ‘private clouds’ that don’t use multitenancy. Private clouds typically are run out of third-party data centers hired to run individual companies’ IT operations in the cloud. 

“Our analysis shows that cloud computing platforms, like salesforce.com’s, are substantially more energy and carbon-efficient than either on premises systems or third-party virtualized-only data centers,” says Josh Whitney, Senior Project Director at WSP and the lead author of the report. “This further helps to reinforce the crucial role that cloud computing will play in reducing the environmental impact of IT.” 

The salesforce.com platform runs approximately 270,000 custom and salesforce applications for more than 92,300 customers who include Allianz Commercial, Dell, Japan Post and KONE and SunTrust Banks.  

Because of salesforce.com’s multitenant architecture, all customers – no matter what size or where they are located -- use the same infrastructure, much like tenants in an apartment building.  

The multitenant design also means salesforce.com runs significantly fewer servers and consumes less energy than on-premise systems or private clouds hosted by data centers. Our study reveals that the usage and energy efficiencies of the multitenant cloud computing extend to a potential net reduction in carbon emissions. The analysis carried out for this study revealed that the salesforce.com community saved an estimated 170,900 tonnes of carbon in 2010 - the equivalent of taking 37,000 cars off the road, or avoiding the consumption of 19.5 million gallons of gas. 

Our client, salesforce.com, is understandably very excited by the results of the study: “Cloud computing will play a crucial role in the sustainability of IT; it is all about a new world that's social, mobile, open, and green” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com. 

Jonathan G. Koomey, Ph.D, consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering, Stanford University, who reviewed the analysis, commented: “This study proves what I've suspected for years – the use of public cloud computing offers significant energy and environmental advantages.” 

WSP’s collaboration with salesforce.com has extended to helping design and develop two user-friendly web tools to help communicate the results and impact of salesforce.com’s cloud platform when compared to on premises or private cloud solutions.  Salesforce.com has unveiled the industry’s first daily carbon savings meter, showing real-time carbon savings for the entire salesforce.com customer community.  

In addition, companies can estimate their individual carbon savings when they shift to salesforce.com. Companies simply fill in their location, number of users, and whether they use on premises software, a private cloud, or some combination of the two. The site estimates the company’s current carbon emissions, and compares that with a true cloud computing service that’s based on a multi-tenant architecture.  

Further information 

Access the sustainability section of salesforce.com’s website here  

The daily carbon savings meter can be found here