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Moving common applications to the cloud has huge energy saving implications

16 June 2013

A six-month study has found that moving common software applications to the cloud could save enough electricity annually to power Los Angeles for a year.

Moving local software applications to cloud data centers like this one promise significant energy savings, according to a study led by Berkeley Lab

The study, led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) with assistance from Northwestern University and funding from Google, looked at three common business applications — email, customer relationship management software, or CRM, and bundled productivity software (spreadsheets, file sharing, word processing, etc).

Moving these software applications (based on use by 83 million US workers) from local computer systems to centralised cloud services could cut IT energy consumption by up to 87 percent — about 23 billion kilowatt-hours. This is roughly the amount of electricity used each year by all the homes, businesses and industry in Los Angeles.

A primary goal of the project was to develop a state-of-the-art model that both researchers and the general public could use to analyze the energy and carbon impacts of cloud computing. This is the first time such a model is available to the public in open-access form and can be found here.

“We can’t fly by the seat of our pants when it comes to assessing sustainability. We need numbers – hard data — to properly analyse how cloud computing compares to how computing is done now,” said Northwestern’s Eric Masanet, lead author of the report.

“Well-thought-out analysis is especially important with new technology, which can have unforeseen effects. Our public model allows us to look forward and make informed decisions. What we found overall is that by hosting services on the cloud as opposed to locally, the savings are pretty robust.”

The report can be found online here.





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