Cloud computing may improve energy efficiency

April 10, 2012

A new report indicates that in addition to its various technological and financial benefits, cloud computing may also improve organizations' energy efficiency.

The 2012 Energy Efficient IT Report, created by CDW, surveyed 760 IT professionals from several different industries, including private business, the federal government and education. When asked for their views on cloud computing and energy usage, 62 percent of participants indicated that they believe cloud computing is an energy efficient means of consolidating data centers. This represents an increase of more than 20 percent from last year's survey, in which 47 percent of those surveyed agreed with this notion.

As the report points out, this view is partially due to the fact that cloud computing allows more workers to telecommute or work from home, as it provides access to company information regardless of location and provides secure messaging and file transfers between employees. As a result, workers have to commute less, which cuts down on the green house emissions produced by cars and buses.

Additionally, the cloud allows companies to store data in centralized locations, which is more energy efficient than individualized storage options. Consequently, survey respondents estimated that cloud-based virtualized servers or storage may reduce energy by as much as 28 percent.

However, while these findings may make the cloud seem like an ever more appealing option for organizations, industry experts recommend caution when making the transition to cloud-based services. If a company shifts its operations to the cloud too quickly, it may risk overlooking security vulnerabilities. Because it is such a departure from older networking models, the cloud has unique security risks which must be addressed - it is not sufficient to apply pre-existing security procedures to this new environment.

-McAfee Cloud Security