You would imagine that with recycling water bottles, and printing on both sides of your recycled paper using printers with recycled printer cartridges, you’re doing all you can to be green, right?
Possibly not depending on how much data your organization stores-the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that approximately 1.5% of electricity consumed in the US is used by data centers. This translates to approximately 0.5% of greenhouse gas emissions coming from these data centers.
This may seem like very little, and thus have no effect on you, but consider that the data storage and management industry is growing, and that businesses will need double the capacity of data storage units in 2020 compared to what was needed in 2007, mostly because small and medium-sized businesses are also embracing cloud computing services.
Effect of cloud storage on the environment
Unless you opt for cloud service companies that are utilizing green technology to run their data centers, all you’ll manage to do is move the consumption of space, energy, manpower and other resources from your company to that of your cloud services provider.
In a way, any cloud storage provider would still be better because of the consolidations that allow businesses to benefit from economies of scale. This means that rather than maintaining physical servers of their own, each with their own energy and resource requirements, small and medium businesses can use a cloud computing service provider who likely utilizes less space, fewer servers collectively and far less energy to keep the internal environment of the server locations cool.
Cloud server technology also lessens the need for all the extra hardware, reduces the amounts of collective unutilized space and flattens out the peak data loads. It also allows smaller organizations that couldn’t afford such services on their own to benefit from the services of the best remote DBA experts.
Judging your potential cloud computing services provider
A study conducted in 2012 revealed that data centers waste as much as 90% of the energy that they utilize. This is partially because of powering the backup generators that are supposed to kick in when the main power sources fail.
It may be quite difficult to tell what cloud computing company is utilizing its energy among other resources efficiently, and which is plain wasteful. A good place to start would be to run online checks on different cloud computing providers. There are many online resources and review sites that can provide this information.
Next, you can look into their policies, especially in regards to environmental impact. There are cloud storage companies that proactively make every effort to reduce the environmental impact of their corporate activities.
Scour the Internet for evidence of any energy preservation and green initiatives that your would-be provider is involved in. If energy and resource conservation has not been mentioned anywhere, it’s very likely that environmental impact mitigation doesn’t feature highly in the list of priorities for that company.
You can also examine the report cards for various cloud computing service providers, available at Greenpeace, which offers a non-partisan opinion on data center energy conversation practices for various cloud computing service providers.