The green state of cloud computing and cloud-based email archiving

By Sonian
In Channel
October 12, 2012
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Kayla Krause / Sonian

Cloud computing systems such as email archiving can save organizations time and money, allowing business operations to run more smoothly. One of the reasons that IT departments turn to cloud computing in the form of email archiving, file archiving, cloud BI and cloud intelligence is because these options are considered to be greener than their counterparts. That is, they're believed to be more energy efficient than legacy solutions.

Although cloud computing offers clear benefits, such as the ability to work remotely and the freeing up of valuable server space, it's often greener than traditional options, but not always, according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and WSP Environment and Energy LLC (WSP).

How environmentally friendly is cloud computing?
The recent report, "The Carbon Emissions of Serve Computing for Small-to-Medium-Sized Organization," sought to study how cloud-based services compared to on-premise servers in terms of environmental impact. Variables included power usage effectiveness (PUE), hardware utilization factors and carbon emissions.The report detailed a variety of typical scenarios in IT departments and assessed how environmentally-sound they were.

According to the study, cloud computing generally saves more energy and is more carbon efficient because more customers can be served at once. The study did demonstrate, however, that sometimes cloud computing is not more energy efficient. If server rooms are at utmost efficiency, they can be more environmentally friendly than cloud computing options.

The study revealed that small data centers are often less efficient than large ones.

Cloud services are not created equal
If a company is considering utilizing cloud archiving or email archiving systems, executives should carefully decide which service to use, as not all cloud systems are created equal, according to the report.

"There are many reasons for moving to cloud computing, but a company choosing to do so for pure energy efficiency reasons needs to look closely at their whole IT set-up as well as those of third-party offerings," said David Symons, director of WSP Environment and Energy, according to BusinessGreen. "An on-site server room that is run with energy efficiency best practices may be a greener alternative to a ‘brown cloud'."

As with all aspects of cloud-computing, IT specialists and executives need not choose blindly. Instead, they should research which options will best suit their company and which options are most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly.

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