Information technology is essential to the economy. We used to say the online economy, but that forms such a large part of the economy as a whole, and almost all activity within the wider economy depends in some way on computing infrastructure and information technology that the distinction is losing its usefulness.
Computing infrastructure forms the substrate on which the economy runs. To accommodate the demand for infrastructure, data centers are being built at an ever faster rate. Data centers consume massive amounts of energy, up to one hundred times that of the average office building. Information technology uses ten percent of the world’s annual energy consumption — more than the aviation industry. It behoves companies to try to reduce their energy consumption; deploying applications and infrastructure into the cloud is one of the easiest ways to reduce energy consumption on IT.
Companies who deploy applications on site are unlikely to be able to leverage efficiencies that cloud platform vendors have access to. Cloud companies are acutely aware of the relationship between power consumption and their bottom line; they invest significant time and energy into lowering energy use within their facilities. The average business cannot invest the same resources in energy efficient infrastructure deployment.
One of the major reasons data centers waste energy is underutilization. Managing servers so that they are used to their maximum capacity is difficult if each of those servers is a discrete entity. The virtualization layer employed by the cloud means that servers can be utilized more efficiently. Workloads are not stuck on one server; they can be flexibly shared and moved between multiple servers, allowing cloud companies to maximize hardware use. If a physical server is underutilized, further virtual servers can be deployed on it, ensuring that its resources are efficiently used.
If you recall, infrastructure-as-a-service platforms were originally developed as a way to soak up the excess captivity of corporations with massive data centers that weren’t being fully utilized. They sold their excess capacity to other companies. While the cloud has developed well beyond being a way for companies to monetize excess capacity, the underlying technology was deployed because it served that purpose.
According to Google, if the 86 million office workers in the US were transferred to cloud service, they’d use 87% less energy, because:
These energy savings are mainly driven by increased data center efficiency when using cloud services (email, calendars, and more). The cloud supports many products at a time, so it can more efficiently distribute resources among many users. That means we can do more with less energy.
Companies who value energy efficiency use cloud servers to deploy their applications and sites.