3 easy steps to see if your Cloud solution is energy efficient


I’ve written a number of posts questioning whether Cloud Computing is Green or Energy Efficient but to be a little more helpful, here is a simple test you can do to see if your Cloud Computing delivered applications are yielding energy efficiency gains for you:

  1. Have you moved some of your applications to a Cloud provider? – if “Yes” go to step 2 (if no, then cloud is not saving you energy)
  2. Do you know what the energy consumption* of that application was before moving it to the cloud? – if “Yes”, go on to step 3 (if no, then you have no way to tell if your Cloud solution is saving you energy)
  3. Do you know the energy consumption of your application after it has moved to the Cloud? – if “Yes” subtract 3 from 2 and if the answer is positive then Cloud is saving you energy (if no, then you have no way to tell if your Cloud solution is saving you energy)

*Obviously, the units of energy consumption in steps 2 and 3 need to be the same for this to work. To make sure they are, try contacting your Cloud provider before moving your applications to the Cloud and asking them what their method for measuring energy consumption is. If they tell you (more than likely they won’t) you can match your measurement units in step 2 to theirs.

Unfortunately, as Cloud Computing providers are, as yet, not publishing energy consumption information, for now, this only works as a thought experiment. However with coming regulatory requirements around reporting of energy consumption, Cloud Providers may be forced to reveal this information.

It is only when Cloud providers detail their energy consumption information that we will be able to say whether Cloud Computing is energy-efficient, or not.

Photo credit kevindooley


  1. says

    Hi Tom, We are developing a public cloud based on OpenStack. We will only be in beta until the Diablo version is available in September. At least in the short term it will be meaningless to publish energy consumption per VM. In an hotel with only a few rooms occupied the energy consumption per occupant is very poor. It will be 2012 before the energy efficiencies take effect. We are also waiting for multi-sled servers like the Dell 5125 (12 servers in 3U) or Tyan FM65-B5511 (18 servers in 4U) become cost effectively available. Cloud computing has the possibility of delivering computing more energy efficiently that current practices but it will take a while before all of the benefits are realiseable.
    However, I don’t think that Cloud will reduce compute energy consumption overall. We’ll get a lot more compute for a little more Watts.

  2. says

    Great post, Tom. A good reminder for businesses to operations efficiency with energy efficiency.

    My take on this: Cloud computing is very promising with its capacity to enable platforms to provide user convenience while benefiting companies financially. It is, however, bound for the bumpy road with SaaS and security requirement issues becoming imminent.