Telehouse Green: How Green Is My Cloud?November 2, 2016
Understanding the Energy Efficiency of Cloud-Based Computing
Forrester estimates that worldwide spending on Public Cloud computing services will grow to $160 billion in 2020, a 22 percent annual growth rate from just five years ago. And it’s not just Public Cloud that is experiencing a spike, but Private and Hybrid Cloud usage too.
Among enterprises with 1000 or more employees, Private Cloud adoption increased from 63 percent to 77 percent, and Hybrid Cloud rose from 58 percent to 71 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to RightScale’s 2016 State of the Cloud survey. Enterprises that use the Cloud are, on average, leveraging three Public Clouds and three Private Clouds, each.
Businesses are increasingly opting to switch from internal resources to cloud-based computing to enjoy benefits such as faster scalability of capacity, pay-as-you-go pricing, and access to cloud-based applications and services without the need to purchase and manage expensive on-premises infrastructure.
But whether you’re considering a Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud configuration, as-a-service computing offers another distinct advantage over on-premise alternatives: It’s comparatively greener. A study by Accenture found that for large enterprise firms, Cloud adoption can cut energy use and carbon emissions by 30 to 60 percent in comparison to on-premise IT infrastructures. And for mid-sized firms using the Cloud, carbon emissions and energy consumption can be reduced by as much as 60 to 90 percent.
Let’s examine why.
Green That Is Virtually Self-Evident
Some of the reasons why cloud-based infrastructure is greener than on-premises equipment are…well…virtually self-evident.
Virtualization, the definitive technology at play, enables a single physical server to run multiple operating system images simultaneously. Through consolidation, server virtualization reduces the total physical server footprint. Less servers mean less power consumed and a reduced carbon footprint. Also, when less equipment is required to run workloads, this reduces data center space, and with less physical equipment plugged-in, a facility will consume less electricity.
It’s interesting to note that virtualization is nothing new. In fact, IBM pioneered the concept in the 1960s, but its potential has only been fully realized with the advent of modern data center and server technologies.
The pay-per-use and self-service capabilities of cloud-based infrastructure also increase energy and resource efficiencies, since users only consume the computing resources they need when they need it, and can turn off these resources with automated software.
Multitenancy, whereby diverse organizations leverage a Public Cloud, or various business units across the same enterprise use a Private Cloud, also allows companies to take advantage of efficiencies of scale. By combining demand patterns across many organizations or business units within an enterprise, the ratio between peak and average capacity loads becomes smaller. This reduces the need for additional infrastructure, which, again, improves energy efficiency and shrinks a company’s carbon footprint.
But is every Cloud as green as the next?
Not really. Some, more than others.
Because power is the primary cost associated with operating Cloud data centers, more and more companies are choosing to locate these facilities near inexpensive, abundant and reliable power resources. One of Google’s largest data centers is located near Portland, Oregon, for example, where clean and inexpensive hydroelectric power is drawn from the Columbia River. In comparison, Microsoft’s enormous data center near Chicago draws a little over one percent of its energy from renewable sources.
Yes, some Clouds are greener than others, and you’ll want to conduct due diligence to determine which Cloud, and which Cloud services will be best suited for your company. Not only from an ecological perspective, but considering your business operations. Companies whose business must adhere to highly-stringent, security compliance requirements — for example, HIPAA, HITECH, PCI DSS — are better served by a Private or Hybrid Cloud.
Many of the world’s largest Cloud providers are established in Telehouse facilities, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud, Google Cloud Platform, Net Suite and thousands of others. Telehouse also provides enterprises with an optimized, intelligent and private network that ensures accelerated access to applications hosted in Public, Private, or Hybrid Clouds. For Cloud providers, the global locations of Telehouse Cloud Interconnect provide greater speed-to-market and increased levels of performance for their end-users. Meanwhile, with many of the world’s largest Cloud providers already established in Telehouse data centers, global enterprises benefit from low latency and cost-effective connections.