Green and “The Cloud”

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  • #179111

    Henry Brown

    Title: The Energy Efficiency Potential of Cloud – Based Software

    Executive Summary

    The energy use of data centers is a topic that has received much attention, given that data centers currently account for 1-2% of global electricity use. However, cloud computing holds great potential to reduce data center energy demand moving forward, due to large reductions in total servers through consolidation and large increases in facility efficiencies compared to traditional local data centers. However analyzing the net energy implications of shifts to the cloud can be very difficult, because data center services can affect many different components of society’s economic and energy systems. This report summarizes research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Northwestern University to address this net energy analysis challenge in two important ways:

    1. We developed a comprehensive yet user friendly open access model for assessing the net energy and emissions implication of cloud services in different regions and at different levels of market adoption. The model- named the Cloud Energy and Emissions Research(CLEER) Model – aims to provide full transparency on calculations and input value assumptions so that its results can be replicated and its data and methods can be easily refined and improved by the global research community. The CLEER Model has been made freely available online.

    2.We applied the CLEER Model in a case study to assess the technical potential of cloud-based business software for reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. We focused on three common business applications- Email, productivity software and customer relationship management (CRM) software – which are currently used by tens of millions of U.S. workers.

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  • #179114

    Henry Brown

    Additional information and commentary from

    Cloud computing saves energy, and here’s the data to show it
    Moving companies’ software — for things like email, CRM, word processing and spreadsheets — into the cloud could save enough energy every year to power L.A. for a year. That’s according to a new report out Tuesday morning by Berkeley Lab and funded by Google.

    To address the many nuances involved with cloud computing-driven efficiency, alongside the Berkeley Lab report the researchers created a new publicly available model that anyone can use to examine the energy and carbon emissions impact of various scenarios for cloud computing. IT managers can input data about their company’s IT services, data center type, region, and type of servers, and see how much energy would be saved by putting email, CRM or productivity software into the cloud instead of hosting it themselves.


    Additional commentary from Scientific Computing

    “We can’t fly by the seat of our pants when it comes to assessing sustainability. We need numbers — hard data — to properly analyze how cloud computing compares to how computing is done now,” said Northwestern’s Eric Masanet, lead author of the report. “Well-thought-out analysis is especially important with new technology, which can have unforeseen effects. Our public model allows us to look forward and make informed decisions. What we found overall is that by hosting services on the cloud as opposed to locally, the savings are pretty robust.”

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