The analysts at Pike Research came out with a report this week that claims that the adoption of cloud computing will lead to a 38 percent reduction in worldwide data center energy use by 2020, compared to what the growth of data center energy consumption would be without cloud computing. While the folks at Pike are smart guys, I’d like to respectfully disagree with such a simplistic finding.
In contrast, a recent report from University of Melbourne researcher Rod Tucker and his team, which I wrote about for GigaOM Pro (subscription required), found that while cloud computing can deliver a more efficient use of computing power, in some cases, cloud computing can actually lead to more energy use than traditional in-office computing.
Web companies have been embracing cloud computing in order to buy flexible, lower cost, on-demand computing power from companies like Amazon. So cloud computing generally replaces the computing that would have been done by companies’ own in-house computing resources.
At the same time, companies that sell cloud services are eager to advertise that the cloud is greener and more energy-efficient. A new study from Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy found that moving business applications to the cloud can cut the associated per-user carbon footprint 30 percent for larger, already-efficient clients and as much as 90 percent for the smallest and least efficient businesses. Microsoft sells cloud computing services from its Azure product.
Finding the energy savings of cloud computing is a very complex process, and I think it’s far more nuanced than the Pike researchers are finding it.
To read more on energy consumption and cloud computing check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):
- How to Make Cloud Computing Greener
- Can Cloud Computing Dial Back the Data Center Overload?
- Cloud Computing Gets Hip to Green Markets
Image courtesy of The Planet.