November 5, 2010 – Deploying data center operations to the cloud can cut carbon emissions and energy use by 30 percent for large organizations, and by much more for smaller operations, according to a lifecycle analysis sponsored by Microsoft.

The study, entitled “Cloud Computing and Sustainability: The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud,” was conducted by Accenture and WSP. The study methodology was aligned to the Global eSustainability Initiative standards and compared energy use and carbon emissions per small, mid-sized and large users of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, SharePoint Server 2007 and Dynamics CRM, with their cloud counterparts.

The analysis suggested that small deployments of about 100 users in an organization can cut energy use and carbon emissions by 90 percent. For medium-sized deployments of about 1,000 users, that number doubled or even tripled. Large deployments of about 10,000 users to the cloud registered a 30 to 60 percent cut in emissions and use.

In one example, the study noted that a large consumer goods company reduced carbon emissions by 32 percent by moving 50,000 email users to the cloud.

The main reasons areas of reduction from the cloud were server provisioning and utilization, multi-tenancy, and, with the biggest impact, overall data center efficiency.

Rob Bernard, Microsoft chief environmental strategist, said the analysis gives backbone to a long-standing belief about energy savings from cloud use.

“The IT industry had this nagging question – as more and more services move to the cloud, do they consume more or less energy?” Bernard said in a company news release. “This study found that you can migrate existing infrastructure to the cloud and see not only growth in productivity but a reduction in energy consumption for those services.”

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