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Microsoft is a great example of a company that has committed to green practices and being eco-friendly. They have reduced their carbon emissions by 10 metric tons and purchased new wind and solar energy. In addition to these initiatives, they have also successfully deployed environmentally friendly underwater data centers. More recently, they have announced plans to expand their cloud computing operations in Sweden.

These new facilities will be Microsoft’s most advanced and are billed as “zero waste” operations. Per a recent press release, “Microsoft plans to launch a new data-driven circular cloud initiative using the Internet of Things, blockchain and artificial intelligence to monitor performance and streamline the reuse, resale and recycling of data center assets.”  “We intend for our data centers in Sweden to be among the most sustainably designed and operated in the world with the ultimate ambition of achieving zero-carbon operations,” said Noelle Walsh, CVP, Cloud Operations & Innovation for Microsoft, stated in a recent blog post.

One of the best ways an organization can participate in environmental initiatives is green cloud computing. At this point most organizations have some presence in the cloud. The environmental benefits of moving to the cloud include energy conservation and going paperless. These are well known and have been documented over the years. Corporate stakeholders are increasingly focusing on improving efficiency of IT infrastructure and reducing the carbon footprint at the same time. So what else can an organization do to move cloud computing from green to greener?

Moving storage and internal data centers to the cloud should be the first focus. This can be done as a large project initiative or gradually over time. In some cases it may make sense to have a certain percentage of infrastructure remain on-premise. Legacy systems always present a challenge and administrators should carefully consider and plan according to their own circumstances. In any case, moving to the cloud should be first priority because of significant energy efficiency improvements.

Cloud computing services can operate at a much higher efficiency than smaller on-premise deployments. This is mainly due to dynamic provisioning that allows for greater efficiency. In many studies energy savings of anywhere from 25 to 90% are realized after moving to the cloud. Cloud service providers such as Microsoft are always looking to improve their own efficiency and meet the requirements of the specific services they are offering.

The next logical step after moving costly private data centers from on-premise to the cloud is improving and saving power consumption internally. Sourcing and implementing renewable energy sources should be priority. Once equipment is installed, renewable energy sources are cheaper than traditional fossil fuel energy sources. This is especially true for larger companies who can leverage large scale energy purchases. However, small companies also have plenty of options available and research may be needed in exploring tax credits, grants and loans that are available for small to medium sized businesses. Cloud providers are already leading the way in transforming their energy consumption to renewable energy sources and this is one of the key components in how cloud computing provides so much greater efficiency. One step at a time all businesses can join in the effort to realize more efficient computing power and reduced energy costs through cloud computing.

Last modified on Monday, 01 July 2019
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Craig Gehrig

Craig Gehrig is a systems administrator with Rainbow Resource Center, an online retailer of educational materials in Peoria, IL. He is also the founder of Vanova IT Consulting, a provider of IT solutions to small businesses in the agriculture, manufacturing, and retail industries. When he is not staring at a monitor, he can be found spending time with his wife Vanessa and their two children- Sasha and Craig.


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