The Green Cloud
The IT industry is responsible for around 2% of the world's carbon emissions and data centers are the fastest growing part of that footprint. It's estimated that the average data centre uses as much electricity as 4,000 homes annually.
Pike Research in its recently issued report "Green Data Centers" claims that energy efficiency now has a "major emphasis" at IT firms, and that investment in data centres will increase from $7.5bn (£4.7bn) this year to $41.4bn (£26bn) in five years' time. The report also suggests that green server farms will account for 28% of the entire market. An analysis of the research suggests that a reduction in the cost of the energy of global data center can take place by up to 38 percent by 2020 because of the extremely efficient cloud computing.
As IT energy costs become more visible, the financial benefits of moving to a greener mode of operation are being recognised.
The Cloud Solution
A typical traditional server is considered to have an average utilisation of less than 10% and costs between £8-£12 per month in energy costs for simply being racked, powered and cooled. A rack of standard 18 x 1U servers will therefore cost £144-£216 per month or £1728 - £2592 per annum for being plugged in.
A recent study, titled, "Cloud Computing and Sustainability" from Microsoft compared the environmental footprint of running business software internally or with an outsourced provider. The study showed that, compared to running their own applications, by outsourcing companies can reduce the energy use and carbon footprint of computing by up to 90%.
One long standing criticism of the industry has been that it has only really focused on the low hanging fruits, that it has paid no more than lip service to changing its operational methods, but perhaps we will now see a 'sea change' in the way we tackle the issues.