The whole world is concerned about the impact of technology on the environment. Enterprises are expected to contribute their mite to greening their data centres and ensuring that their activities do not adversely impact the environment. The social responsibility of these organizations is being called to account.

It is but natural in the circumstances that questions are raised about the “greenness” of Cloud computing. Is Cloud computing really green? Does it really reduce the carbon footprint? How does one ensure that?

The value propositions (in this direction) that are offered by Cloud computing are consolidation, virtualization, dynamic provisioning and multi tenancy.

Data centre design and data centre consolidation are two factors that contribute to green computing in the Cloud. Data centre design may take into consideration the location of the data centre. Places, where cool breezes are prevalent, may help reduce and dissipate the heat produced from the data centre. An example of this type of consideration in data centre design can be had from HP which located its data centre in Billingham, England to take advantage of the North Sea winds.

Data centre consolidation will help reduce the number of physical servers that are occupying rack space. By using skinless servers on blade chassis to create blade servers and other similar technologies, enterprises can reduce rack-space consumption, power utilization and improve workload balancing. Power and space saving can be as much as 20-30% of the space or power originally used in these circumstances.

Virtualization is another technology that is claimed by Cloud services as a “greening device”. Virtualization is, really, a Cloud enabler. It reduces the number of physical servers that are deployed in the data centre and focuses enterprise attention on efficiency, consolidation and functionality of its servers. It facilitates scale up / scale down of whole machines on demand.

This capability, in turn, results in dynamic provisioning.  When dynamic provisioning and Virtual machines are operated through Cloud interfaces, the process becomes self-service, resulting in reduced deployment of IT manpower resources.

Multi tenancy significantly reduces energy consumption, optimizes resource use and brings in economies of scale as multiple enterprises or units share the same data centre server infrastructure.

Use of software based technologies like data de-duplication and compression further reduces the number of bytes of information that is transferred between the source and destination.

But, it is important to remember that all these technologies can exist independent of the Cloud and are not integral to its architecture. The Cloud is green because it uses these technologies to ensure that computing remains “green” and the carbon footprint of the enterprise is reduced.