Sustainability – The Ultimate Systemic Imperative

The first decade of this century has been the warmest on record, while those of us who live in the northern hemisphere must have noticed how cold it now is. These extremes of temperature are symptomatic of a planet getting warmer. If we haven't got the global warming message yet, there's a deeper problem.

While we are still recovering from the financial crisis it is easy to forget how critical sustainability is, but if we fail to recognize its importance, playing catch-up will be tough.

Making sustainability more important isn't just a social priority. It's good business sense. It's a great way of improving efficiency, enhancing performance and reducing costs.

Cloud computing can significantly reduce carbon footprint. To assess its environmental impact, Microsoft engaged with Accenture-a leading technology, consulting and outsourcing company-and WSP Environment & Energy-a global consultancy dedicated to environmental and sustainability issues-to compare the energy use and carbon footprint of Microsoft cloud offerings for businesses with corresponding Microsoft on-premise deployments.

The analysis focused on three of Microsoft's mainstream business applications-Microsoft Exchange®, Microsoft SharePoint® and Microsoft Dynamics® CRM. Each application is available both as an on-premise version and as a cloud-based equivalent. The team compared the environmental impact of cloud based vs. on-premise IT delivery.

The study found that, for large deployments, Microsoft's cloud solutions can reduce energy use and carbon emissions by more than 30 percent when compared to their corresponding Microsoft on-premise business applications. The benefits are even more impressive for small deployments: Energy use and emissions can be reduced by more than 90 percent with a shared cloud service.

Though large organizations can lower energy use and emissions by addressing some of these factors in their own data centers, providers of public cloud infrastructure are best positioned to reduce the environmental impact of IT because of their scale. Beyond the commonly cited benefits of cloud computing-such as cost savings and increased agility-cloud computing can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of many business applications.

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