The Cloud and Carbon
The past few years have seen the increasing perception that the “cloud” is a far more sustainable approach to computing than on-
By Richard Romano
Published: April 18, 2012
- A salesforce.com transaction is on average 95% more carbon efficient than when processed in an equivalent on-premises deployment;
- A salesforce.com transaction is on average 64% more carbon efficient than when processed in an equivalent private cloud deployment; and
- Salesforce.com’s estimated total customer carbon emissions footprint for 2010 is at least 19 times smaller than an equivalent on-premises deployment, and is 3 times smaller than an equivalent private cloud deployment.
Salesforce.com’s cloud platform enables much higher utilization of servers; uses elastic provisioning to better match server capacity to demand; and applies multitenancy to serve thousands of organizations with one set of shared infrastructure. Further, salesforce appears to be leading the way in designing, building and operating cloud service hubs that minimize energy use for a given amount of computing power (not only at an operational level). Further, they can employ energy-saving innovations at a scale that only the largest on premises or virtualized data center owner / operators could feasibly manage.Le secret, as this GreenBiz article points out, is looking at carbon emissions per transaction, which provides a standardized way of comparing the various clouds and terrestrial infrastructures. It’s a welcome relief that the sustainability of electronic media is finally starting to take center stage, rather than everyone just assuming there’s nothing wrong with them at all, and improved methodologies will only create a better understanding of the real environmental impacts of evolving technology trends, and identify where there is room for improvement. After all, we’re going there anyway—it behooves us to understand what the consequences are. UPDATE: Meanwhile, in today's Environmental Leader: "Salesforce Worst of ‘Dirty’ Cloud Companies, Greenpeace says." Conflating these two stories, I'm reminded of the old joke about the two women in the restaurant: one says to the other, "The food here is terrible." "Yes, and such small portions."