However you choose to define it, the green appeal is evident. Rather than investing in the installation, powering, and cooling of IT infrastructure for processing, storage, or what have you, you pay a third party to provide the computing services you require. You can pay to use more or fewer resources as your needs change over time -- and you can make those changes quickly without having to pay for new gear.
The green benefit, Washburn explains, is that you have fewer associated carbon emissions, as your cloud service provider is powering and cooling the IT gear, plus you have less e-waste to dispose of. It's not as though all carbon emissions and e-waste associated with your IT services disappears entirely just because another organization is providing them. However, given the shared resources of the cloud computing model, it's conceivable that cloud computing providers can delivers services more efficiently to customers (using less electricity and fewer machines overall) than would be necessary if customers run their services in house.
That's not a guarantee, though, Washburn notes: "[T]o date, service-level agreements do not ensure cloud service providers are doing all they can to reduce environmental impacts or quantifying these environmental benefits for customers."
Beyond requiring assurances that cloud services are greener, organizations are hesitant to embrace cloud computing due to security and privacy concerns, as well as doubts that providers can deliver an acceptable level of service.
Green tech No. 2: Datacenter outsourcing and collocation
Speaking of shared resources, datacenter outsourcing and collocation is also poised for significant success as a green 1.0 service, Washburn says, with your paying a third party to own and operate your entire datacenter or to manage your IT infrastructure within a third-party datacenter facility.
Here, you enlist datacenter experts (hopefully) to manage your facilities and/or IT equipment, using their knowledge of the tricks of the trade to reduce environmentally unfriendly waste. Further, if your gear is housed in a shared facility, it means CRAC systems and other infrastructure are being shared. That, in turn, is more environmentally friendly than it would be for each customer to have their own datacenter facility with separate power-distribution and cooling equipment.
Moreover, by having a place to park their servers and storage equipment, companies can postpone or cancel plans to expand existing datacenters or build new ones, which can be taxing on the environment (not to mention time-consuming and costly), Washburn notes.