Green is good -- but it's no reason to go to the cloud

Cloud services save on greenhouse gas emissions, but on its own, the environmental rationale won't cut it in business

New research from the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) tells us again what most of us already know: Cloud computing can slash CO2 emissions. The report suggests U.S. companies could save 85.7 million metric tons of CO2 annually by moving to the cloud. That's the equivalent of using 200 million barrels of oil.

However, most interesting is the fact that many of the companies participating in the research said improving their environmental performance was not their primary motivation for moving to the cloud. Indeed, in my experience, it's never the primary reason. If anything, it is a secondary argument that IT rolls out when asking for the money to make the migration. I call this the "you love the planet, don't you?" argument for cloud computing.

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I'm going to come right out and say it: The motivation in moving to the cloud these days is more around cost savings and hype. Green computing is a by-product, but never the objective. I even suspect that if cloud computing was proven to increase CO2 emissions, we'd be moving to public clouds anyway.

This is not to say corporations are greedy entities that don't care about the environment, but they have to be true to their mission in returning shareholder equity. This means they will use the most effective and cost-efficient computing resources. If those resources happen to be "green," all the better. But the greenness of cloud computing is never on the critical path.

That's a good thing. The only way technology will be viable is if it provides clear and quick value to the business. If that technology is green, great. If not, then be sure not to mention that fact.

This article, "Green is good -- but it's no reason to go to the cloud," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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