By Ben Goldhirsh
Cloud computing is the new mantra for small businesses looking to go green.
That’s important because IT’s carbon footprint has been expanding. Between 2011 and 2020, carbon emissions for worldwide information communication technology (ICT) equipment and services are expected to double from 2 percent to 4 percent of total emissions, according to market research firm Verdantix.
Becoming a green business means more than just eliminating paper. It is about eliminating waste and reducing energy consumption. One easy step towards “going green” and significantly decreasing your carbon footprint is to eliminate or reduce energy-consuming on-premises equipment and move your IT to the cloud.
Cloud computing, storing and accessing data and software from remote servers, is changing the way the world does business. The cloud can be accessed from anywhere there’s an Internet connection. The cloud allows increasing amounts of Big Data generated from mobile devices and social channels to be captured, stored and continuously updated in one, central location. This dramatically reduces a business’ power consumption and in turn, energy bills.
When small companies run their own servers, idle time is a considerable problem. Small companies never use 100 percent of their computing power 100 percent of the time – it’s not even close. Most of the time, the server is idle, using power while not doing anything productive. Cloud technology means small companies use only the technology and energy they actually need. In other words, Cloud computing allows small, green businesses to work more efficiently and become even more eco-friendly.
In the U.S. alone, cloud computing will reduce carbon emissions by almost 86 million metric tons per year by 2020, generating a potential energy savings of more than $12 billion/year. Businesses, both established and start-ups, large or small can all go cloud, and go green, at the same time.
For example, large companies moving to the cloud can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by 30 percent. Small businesses save even more energy than their larger counterparts – up to 90 percent.
To help spur wide adoption of these technologies, cloud providers, and more specifically managed service providers, are uniquely positioned to assist small businesses in devising and implementing a Green IT strategy. Guidance from local technology providers goes a long way to help shape sustainable, socially responsible – and profitable – green businesses.
Gartner predicts the worldwide cloud computing market will grow to more than $14 billion in 2013. This growth indicates the small businesses that make up 65 percent of the total business community are actively pursuing cloud computing as a way to keep costs down, improve processes and transition to a mobile workforce.
In addition to the green benefits of cloud computing, such services are also lowering the barrier to entry into business for many SMBs, such as eliminating the need to establishing expensive in-house IT capabilities. Also, cloud computing levels the playing field and enables start-ups and SMBs to act like, and operate like, organizations of much greater size and scope.
With SMBs serving as the growth engine for many countries, cloud computing can spur the growth of local industries and local economies in environmentally friendly ways.