The Carbon Benefits of Cloud Computing 

Organisations are moving their data to the cloud for a variety of reasons. The ability to reduce total cost of ownership of IT, increase business agility and the ability to collect, analyse and store huge quantities of data are some of the main benefits businesses can expect to see from moving to the cloud.

However, there may be even more reason to consider a cloud strategy. Microsoft recently commissioned a study, in partnership with WSP , which looked at the carbon benefits of cloud computing. The study shows that Microsoft Cloud services are up to 93% more energy efficient than traditional enterprise datacentres.

The study compared the energy consumption and carbon emissions of four applications in the Microsoft Cloud with their on-premises equivalents:

  • Microsoft Azure Compute
  • Microsoft Azure Storage
  • Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Microsoft SharePoint Online

The study showed that the key drivers for a reduced carbon footprint were:

  • Efficient operational practices
  • IT equipment efficiency
  • Datacentre infrastructure efficiency

These three factors reduced the energy required to deliver the services.

  • Renewable electricity – Microsoft were able to purchase renewable electricity for more than 95% of their consumption. Consolidated electricity demand creates the potential for large-scale purchases of green power that would not be otherwise viable.

The Paris Agreement has garnered many column inches and gained a lot of public attention. Under the agreement, countries have committed to curbing temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to keep them to 1.5C. Governments are now establishing regulations to curtail carbon emissions. The UK is currently committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050, however, after a global scientific review of the impacts of, and action needed to keep to, a 1.5C rise is published this autumn, the UK’s climate advisers will be asked to review the country’s 2050 target.

With this in mind, businesses across the UK will need to re-evaluate how they manage their own commitment to the low-carbon economy. The good news is that many high-profile business are already embracing a low-carbon future. Environmental awareness among consumers is growing along with their expectations around environmental policies of the companies they purchase goods and services from.

This new research from Microsoft shows us that a cloud strategy could enable UK organisations to reap the business benefits of cloud computing whilst also making a valid contribution to the nation’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions. This coupled with growing consumer demand for environmental responsibility from UK organisations mean that cloud computing should be high on the priority list for businesses across the country.

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