Large Silver Lining For Corporate Cloud Strategies

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A Verdantix report claims cloud computing can massively reduce carbon emissions but security is a worry

A survey in the US has suggested that great energy savings can be made if corporates move their IT infrastructure to the cloud. The report from Verdantix was sponsored by AT&T as a Carbon Disclosure Project study and apparently confirms other studies in this area.

“Take the example of a global food and beverage firm with revenues of $10 billion (£6bn) which transitioned its HR [Human Resources] application to a public cloud. This firm could reduce CO2 emissions by 30,000 metric tons over five years. Financial benefits from more efficient use of IT hardware, reduced energy consumption from data centres and a reduced support team mean firms can achieve a payback in under a year,” claimed Stuart Neumann, a Verdantix senior manager who led the research.

Savings Apparent But Security Is A Hurdle

The report Cloud Computing: The IT Solution for the 21st Century forecast that savings will accrue as firms with revenues of over $1 billion (£610m) move towards 69 percent adoption of public and private cloud adoption by 2020. Verdantix calculates that in the US alone this could deliver cumulative carbon emissions reductions of 85.7 million tonnes each year – the equivalent of nearly 200 million barrels of oil.

“Our forecasts for US economy-wide carbon reductions and financial benefits depend on overcoming some key barriers” commented Janet Lin, a Verdantix senior manager in New York. “Concerns about data security and service reliability are rife so firms must articulate a strong business case.

“Calculating the subscription costs of cloud computing is easy but how can IT directors compare this to the cost of existing operations? They must analyse costs across the IT estate, including support staff, electricity and supporting infrastructure to make a financial case for cloud computing.”

The report said that security is a major roadblock on any mapped-out route to a cloud strategy. It was most frequently cited as a reason for not moving to a public cloud environment, with companies preferring to keep their data behind their own firewalls.

The report blames the cloud provisioners for this and states that: “this situation is only likely to change if cloud service providers accept liability for the data, removing the litigation risk, which currently sits with the customer, regarding data loss or leakage.”

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