Powering Los Angeles one cloud migration at a time

A recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that cloud computing is indeed more energy-efficient -- but just how efficient might surprise you

If there ever was any doubt about the energy-efficiency benefits of tapping the cloud for hosted applications, here comes research to put the issue to rest once and for all.

A six-month study conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, with help from Northwestern University, has come to some eye-opening conclusions, according to Dailyfusion.com. The study, which received financial support from Google, found that common software apps in use by 86 million U.S. workers could save enough energy every year to power Los Angeles for a year if those common applications moved to the cloud.

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The report skips the energy benefits of IaaS and instead looks at the SaaS market, including CRM cloud offerings such as Salesforce.com and office automation services such as Google Apps. I would have thought that migration to public IaaS would have been an even bigger energy-efficiency model, considering that more heavy-duty processes and storage can reside on public IaaS providers.

The results of the study prove once again what most folks in the cloud computing world have known for years: "Moving these software applications from local computer systems to centralized cloud services could cut information technology energy consumption by up to 87 percent -- about 23 billion kilowatt-hours." The magnitude of this is staggering, as it represents "roughly the amount of electricity used each year by all the homes, businesses, and industry in Los Angeles."

Of course there are those that see the number of data centers popping up as a sign that the rise of cloud computing is actually making things worse. But considering that the cloud enables consolidation of applications, storage, and the like on a much smaller number of servers, we can certainly do more with less power when using the cloud. Moreover, cloud data centers are much more efficient than those owned and run by enterprises.

Hopefully this puts well into the rearview mirror any questions about cloud computing being green. It's been a silent debate over the past several years, with many environmental organizations chiming in.

We just need to use our heads on this one. Considering the amount of power that data centers require, it makes sense to share these resources effectively. And that's what cloud computing does.

This article, "Powering Los Angeles one cloud migration at a time," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.