Data centers are one of the biggest users of energy in the world, but their energy guzzling nature belies a number of attempts to make things better. For instance, I wrote recently about a project that was utilizing self-learning to better optimize the energy efficiency of data centers.
Even at their gas guzzling best, however, they are still more eco-friendly than having servers located locally, at least according to a recent study.
It’s already fairly well established that migrating one's servers to the cloud from an in-house facility is good for financial reasons, whilst also removing the hassle of managing these facilities oneself. This allows a degree of flexibility that has made cloud computing a highly attractive option for many companies.
The research suggests that greenery may be another benefit derived from migrating to the cloud. It consisted of a survey of a number of IT managers at American companies to gauge their cloud experiences. The aim was to understand things from both a strategic and operational perspective.
Whilst the results revealed that cloud computing was predictably cheaper and more supportive of strong financial returns, it also led to unexpected environmental gains. For instance, moving to the cloud would result in greater support for compliance with environmental regulations, thus helping companies to use fewer toxic materials and to cut down on resource consumption more generally.
All of which paints a very positive picture of the benefits for companies of migrating their computing to the cloud. The authors suggest that such a migration helps to slash the transaction costs of computing throughout the supply chain, whilst allowing stakeholders easy access to information, even when they represent collaborating partners from different firms.
These benefits are reasonably well established, but the environmental gains were previously more hinted at than proven. Whilst this study isn’t conclusive by any means, it does at least go a little way towards filling that gap and highlight to IT staff that performance gains can be made on both economic and sustainability issues.