Cloud computing has the ability to change how people interact with applications and their personal information. Perhaps more importantly, cloud computing could be one of the most profound ways of reducing society’s ecological footprint in a time when environmental degradation has become increasingly damaging.
Microsoft’s John Vassallo recently wrote a piece about the challenges and benefits of cloud computing in an environmental context, looking at the EU’s 2050 target of reducing carbon emissions by 80%.
“The immediate energy savings of migrating to the cloud are not just through less electricity being used, but rather the ability to scale up ICT resources instantly without additional hardware”, he says.
Information computing technology will consume four percent of all energy production generated in the world by the year 2020. Thankfully, data centres centralize computing processing power, making it much easier to manage their environmental impact. By using cooling techniques that are not reliant on electricity and capturing the heat generated by the servers as a source of energy, electricity demand can be reduced by 30 percent for large businesses.
Carbon footprint and idle computing power
As Vassallo emphasizes, cloud computing can significantly reduce the costs associated with idle computing power. Worldwide, it is estimated that 15 percent of all computer servers are not used at any given time, he writes. These wasted resources costs businesses nearly €19 billion a year on account of the needless expenditures of computers and electricity, among other things. This is very inefficient, reducing the profitability of the businesses while simultaneously damaging the environment.
As the benefits of cloud computing continue to be embraced, businesses will become increasingly productive by using less resources to get their work done. With more productive workers, businesses will become less of a burden to the environment.
This will allow the world to continue increasing its standard of living without the associated increase in environmental damage, making it a powerful tool for the future of humanity.