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Why Internet Efficiency is Up in the Clouds

Data entry centers account for 1-2 percent of the world’s electricity consumption. This may seem a scant amount, however, 86 percent of primary energy footprint systems are also attributed to data centers.

Google’s cloud software is able to increase the efficiency of data centers by reducing the amount of total servers through consolidation. If all office workers in the U.S. were to switch to cloud platforms, the potential energy savings would be enough to power the city of Los Angeles for an entire year.

This would be the equivalent to 23 billion kilowatt-hours annually, or 87 percent of IT energy use. Though the worker migration required would tally to 86 million.

Cloud software enables multiple tasks to take place at once while expending less energy, as when using cloud email and calender services. This is due to the fact that it supports many products at one time, and allows resources to be efficiently distributed to multiple users.

These savings were recorded by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, elsewhere simply known as Berkeley Lab, when they conducted research for Google covering the impact of cloud computing.

The topic was explored further in June 2013, when Google hosted a “How Green is the Internet?” summit. The event granted experts of academia, industry, government, and NGOs an opportunity to discuss both the environmental benefits and drawbacks of the internet. The event can been seen as a follow up to events held in 2009 and 2011, focusing on ways in which data center efficiency could be improved.

The research conducted by Berkeley Lab was based on an open access model, called CLEER, short for the Cloud Energy and Emissions Research Model, which:

“allows researchers, academia and others to change any inputs (such as number of servers or type of devices), and generate their own customized reports.”

Up to 85 percent of energy (which is the equivalent of 326 petajoules) could be saved if businesses switched to the CLEER model for email, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and productivity software.


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