Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Cloud Computing and Energy Use

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Greenpeace underscores the growth of cloud computing and growing energy demands:

The cloud is growing at a time when climate change and reducing emissions from energy use is of paramount concern. With the growth of the cloud, however, comes an increasing demand for energy. For all of this content to be delivered to us in real time, virtual mountains of video, pictures and other data must be stored somewhere and be available for almost instantaneous access. That ‘somewhere’ is data centres – massive storage facilities that consume incredible amounts of energy. [more]

But decisions about how the cloud will be built out are being made by business leaders primarily concerned with quarterly profit statements and earnings for shareholders.

I’m not sure about that last bit…and a proper assessment would compare energy use of non-cloud computing to cloud computing for the delivery of similar services.

Jonathan Koomey illustrates how the cloud can use less energy, due to factors such as increasing server utilization:

Energy is a big driver of data center costs, and there are some advantages that cloud computing [has] over small data centers. One is diversity. If you have an in-house data center, you have a load profile of who is using the data center at certain times. If you have a homogenous group of users (running the same kind of applications), they’re using it all at the same time. Google has so many users of different kinds that it can spread the use, and utilization is higher. [more]


Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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