Cloud Services Axe Data Center Energy Consumption, Power Costs

Cloud services data center energy consumption

According to a recent report from Pike Research, continued adoption of cloud computing will have major implications on both data center energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Ultimately, cloud computing has the potential to chop data center energy consumption by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020, Pike Research noted.

The firm forecasted that data centers will consume 139.8 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2020, a 31 percent drop from the 201.8 TWh in 2010. That also represents a massive reduction from the 226.4 TWh that would be consumed by data centers based on Pike Research's business as usual scenario, where companies do not leverage cloud technologies.

Pike Research also noted that cloud computing will also fuel a 38 percent reduction in worldwide data center energy expenditures come 2020. The decrease in energy consumption will drive down total data center energy costs from $23.3 billion in 2010 to $16 billion in 2020, while also prompting a 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2010.

Pike expects worldwide cloud revenue between now and 2015 to experience a compound annual growth rate of 28.8 percent, with the market growing from $46 billion in 2009 to more than $210 billion by 2015.

Sponsored post

Pike's findings follow a host of recent studies that point to the energy efficiencies and environmental impact of cloud computing compared to on-premise systems. Earlier this month, Google released a study illustrating that its Gmail cloud e-mail can be up to 80 times more energy efficient than an on-premise e-mail system. Google's study followed a report from the Carbon Disclosure Project that found that cloud computing can save large companies $12.3 billion annually on energy costs and reduce carbon emissions by 85.7 metric tons by 2020.

Meanwhile, an Analytics Press study written by Jonathan Koomey, a consulting professor at Stanford University, and sponsored by The New York Times, found that data center power consumption continues to grow, but not as fast as initially estimated. The study found that total data center power consumption from servers, storage, communications, cooling and power distribution equipment accounts for between 1.7 percent and 2.2 percent of total electricity use in the U.S. in 2010, which is up from 0.8 percent of total U.S. power consumption in 2000 and 1.5 percent in 2005. However, it is down dramatically from the 3.5 percent of total U.S. power consumption that was forecast based on historical trends, and a previous estimate of 2.8 percent that assumed power saving technologies would be implemented.

In its study, Pike Research found that cloud systems are less expensive to operate, consume less energy and have higher utilization rates than traditional data centers, which lead the firm to believe that much of the work done in internal data centers today will by pushed to the cloud by the end of the decade.

"Cloud computing revenue will grow strongly over the next decade, with a CAGR of almost 29 percent," Pick Research Senior Analyst Eric Woods said in a statement. "But the reduction in energy consumption will be even more significant. Massive investments in new data center technologies and computing clouds are leading to unprecedented efficiencies."

Pike Research said the increased adoption of cloud services is creating a "virtuous circle" where suppliers of servers, networking gear, disk drives and cooling and power wares design projects to suit large cloud operators, which can lead to improved operating margins through better use of electricity, and ultimately to more adoption.

"Few, if any, clean technologies have the capability to reduce energy expenditures and GHG production with so little business disruption," Woods said. "Software-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service are all inherently more efficient models than conventional alternatives, and their adoption will be one of the largest contributing factors to the greening of enterprise IT."