Last month, Microsoft and Accenture published some research explicitly exploring the energy consumption of running certain Microsoft apps off the cloud versus hosting them in a private data center. The implication was clear, even though the research was obviously self-interested: for the applications in question, sourcing software from the cloud was more energy-efficient than the on-premise alternative.
Now, Pike Research has published some additional data underscoring those findings. Its report, called "Cloud Computing Energy Efficiency," suggests that the adoption of cloud computing over the next decade will result in a 38 percent reduction in data center energy expenditures compared with operating in the same manner that we do today.
Pike predicts that data centers will use approximately 139.8 terrawatt hours during 2010, which is actually a reduction over the amount of energy used today, which is approximately 201.8 terrawatt hours. If we stick with business as usual, data center will probably be consuming around 226.4 terrawatt hours by 2020. That's strictly usage. Pike predicts that the cost of energy needed to run cloud data centers in 2020 will be about $16 billion in 2020, down from $23.3 billion in 2010 The greenhouse gas emissions reduction potential is about 28 percent, the firm projects.
Says Pike Research senior analyst Eric Woods, in the press release about the report:
"The growth of cloud computing will have a very significant positive effect on data center energy consumption. Few, if any, clean technologies have the capability to reduce energy expenditures and [greenhouse gas production] with so little business disruption. Software as a service [SaaS], infrastructure as as service [Iaas], and platform as a service [PaaS] are all inherently more efficient models than conventional alternative, and their adoption will be one of the largest contributing factors to the green of enterprise IT."
Note to self: Time to pay more attention to the energy consumption profiles of SaaS giant Salesforce.com, as well as Amazon.com, which has one of the biggest IaaS plays. Ditto, the Microsoft Azure development platform and Google App Engine.