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Earth Day 2013 – Reducing Your Carbon Footprint by Embracing the Cloud

​Today marks the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day, which is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for our environment. Originally created in response to a massive oil spill in waters near Santa Barbara, California in 1969, this day is one where people all over the world can take tours of recycling centers, pick up free compost, participate in clean-ups of local parks, and become more informed about ways we can reduce our carbon footprint .

(Quick tip: Tell your boss that by working from home today you’ll save emissions from your car from sitting in traffic. According to the Census bureau, the estimated time for workers commuting to work continues to increase. You’re welcome).

So what does this mean for technology? In can be hard sometimes to reduce our carbon footprint amidst an explosion of information and knowledge sharing. All of this data has to go somewhere. With server rooms growing rapidly, how can we be conscious of the environment while not limiting productivity?

Cloud computing has long been hailed as one of the ways in which organizations all over the world can become more green. In fact, it’s the topic of an interesting white paper Microsoft sponsored with Accenture: Cloud Computing and Sustainability: The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud.

Here is the most telling statistic: “This study’s finding that companies can reduce their carbon emissions by 30 to 90 percent by switching to a cloud infrastructure is certainly impressive. As impressive as these numbers are, the cloud’s efficiency is likely to improve even more over time. Cloud computing is rapidly expanding; demand is increasing and providers are ramping up extra servers to meet predicted future capacity requirements. As more customers become cloud users, greater economies of scale will be reached and cloud providers will be able to more accurately predict capacity for computing demand.”

So how can you make the move to utilizing the cloud today?

Hybrid on-premises infrastructure and storage, with cloud storage for data offloading

Moving to the cloud may not always be an option due to concerns over compliance with corporate or industry policies. For example, it may be a requirement to store customer information in on-premises storage and prevent the shipment of this information on hard drives or via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to migrate into cloud services. A hybrid setup using the cloud for offloading certain data means saving on storage expenses without losing the security and privacy for sensitive data.

Location may be another reason to keep infrastructure and storage on premises. Since cloud resources are accessed via the internet, poor bandwidth results in degraded quality of service. Having an on-premises setup provides users with the necessary resources for higher productivity. In this case, cloud storage can be used as a more economical storage option for backup and archive data – the data transfer can be planned for non-business hours so as not to impact service.

Hybrid (on-premises and cloud) infrastructure and storage

While compliance with corporate or industry policies may dictate that sensitive data, such as customer information, must remain on-premise for some, others may not feel secure with corporate data residing outside the enterprise’s walls. Since cloud hardware is maintained by hosting providers, non-employee IT administrators possess a high level of access and control over the information. Hybrid setups with both on-premises and cloud infrastructure and storage give organizations the control of on-premises with the flexibility provided by cloud solutions:

· On-premises intranet with cloud-hosted extranet: Maintain control over internal information with the traditional on-premises deployment, but provide your customers with the uptime offered by cloud hosting providers without the hassle of hardware maintenance.

· On-premises production deployment with temporary cloud-hosted test and development environments: Spin up on-demand testing and development environments removes the cost of maintaining up to date hardware that idles when not needed.

· On-premises deployment with cloud-hosted partner portals: Collaborate with partners through cloud portals paying only for the users involved in the projects without worrying about security risks.

All-in cloud deployment

With everything hosted on the cloud – infrastructure, operating systems, and applications – hardware maintenance lies with the hosting provider, allowing organizations to focus IT efforts on improving services. While data is not stored on-site, cloud hosting providers already have high security measures in place to ensure the safety of their customers’ data.

For more information and resources on taking advantage of all that Microsoft’s cloud has to offer, visit our microsite. And happy Earth Day from all of us at AvePoint!

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