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Cloud computing can cut carbon emissions by 90%

Companies that move their business applications to the cloud can cut their carbon emissions by up to 90 per cent, claims a new report.

The study found that small firms who used 'cloud-based' business apps hosted on remote servers could cut their carbon emissions by up to 90 per cent per user when compared to running applications from their own local servers. Savings are due to the efficiency and economies of scale that can be achieved by large data centres

The study found that even for bigger businesses with 10,000 users or more, cloud-based applications could cut energy consumption and carbon emissions by 30 per cent.

The study, which was commissioned by Microsoft and carried out by business analysts Accenture and environmental consultants WSP Environment & Energy, compared the energy use and carbon emissions per user for Exchange Server 2007, SharePoint Server 2007 and Dynamics CRM with their cloud-based equivalents.

Although the study focused on Microsoft applications, its authors say similar savings could be achieved using other cloud-based apps and providers.

Welcoming the findings of the study, Andrew Armstrong, Vice President of WSP Environment & Energy said: "This represents one of the industry's first quantitative studies of the environmental impact of cloud computing. While the benefits are clear for organizations, at a broader industry level, the systemic impact that cloud computing may have on driving down ICT carbon emissions is significant."

Full results from the study can be found in a white paper here.