A report conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project says that companies which use the cloud for data storage could reduce their carbon emissions by as much as 50% by 2020. Alex Blackburne explains.
Cloud computing is not a new entity. The concept dates back to the 1960s, when American scientist John McCarthy predicted that, “Computation may someday be organised as a public utility“.
McCarthy, who passed away in October this year aged 84, was absolutely correct in his forecast and the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) research shows that cloud computing really is a growing, and sustainable, method of data storage.
But what is cloud computing?
Cloudtimes.org describe it as, “A computing capability that provides an abstraction between the computing resource and its underlying technical architecture, enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction“.
In layman’s terms it’s basically the sharing of resources, software, data and information over a network such as the internet, as opposed to on a computer.
The CDP claim carbon emissions can be reduced by 50% by 2020. This figure for the UK is based on financial data received from 457 companies with revenues greater than $1 billion.
“To calculate the carbon reductions from cloud computing, our model took a number of parameters into account, including the size of the firm, number of servers and data centre power usage effectiveness resulting in the compelling potential energy cost savings“, said Stuart Neumann, senior manager at independent analyst firm Verdantix, who conducted the report.
Paul Dickinson, executive chairman of the CDP, described the reliance of global GDP on ICT as a ‘critical issue‘, but said the potential impact of cloud computing on reducing carbon emissions was a “thrilling breakthrough“.
“The carbon emissions-reducing potential of cloud computing [allows] companies to maximise performance, drive down costs, reduce inefficiency and minimise energy use – and therefore carbon emissions – all at the same time“, Dickinson said.
“However, full transparency from providers on energy consumption and mix is an important step in providing further insight to users into CO2 reductions achieved.“
The future certainly looks bright for cloud computing, with China announcing it is investing some $98 billion in cloud computing hubs.
The CDP claim that by 2020, as well as reducing carbon emissions by 50%, large UK companies that use cloud computing could achieve annual energy savings of £1.2 billion and annual carbon reductions equivalent to the annual emissions of over four million passenger vehicles.
Photo credit: opensourceway