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Microsoft Claims Cloud Computing Cuts Carbon Emissions

Microsoft is claiming that the use of cloud computing technology can reduce per user carbon emissions by 30 per cent.

The study, which was carried out by Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy, who are pro-cloud computing with microsoft having its own cloud network, contradicts claims made by Greenpeace and a group of Australian researchers who had said that cloud computing does more harm to the environment.

In the study, Accenture and WSP studied three of Microsoft's most widely deployed cloud services related to e-mail, content sharing and customer relationship management in cloud-based data centres, IDG News Service reports.

According to Microsoft, cloud computing services reduced carbon emissions by 30 per cent in large organisations, while small organisations were found to cut up to 90 per cent.

The study conducted by Accenture took into account the carbon footprints of server, networking and storage infrastructures deployed in three different types of organisation sizes - 100 users, 1,000 users and 10,000 users.

James Harris, Accenture's director of cloud services, said in a statement to IDG News Service: "The study's findings confirm what many organisations have already discovered: Cloud computing is more economical and IT resources are used more efficiently when business applications run in a shared environment."

The study offers an opposing view to a report published by academics at the University of Melbourne earlier this year, who said that while data centres could improve internal efficiency, data transport energy consumption could cancel out the benefits.

In their report, Jayant Baliga and Australian colleagues claimed that cloud services were not always as efficient as they first appeared because transmitting data to home computers could consume even larger amounts of energy than storing it in the cloud.

Greenpeace also has its doubts about the green credentials of the cloud, saying that the move to cloud services could "contribute to a much larger carbon footprint of the IT sector than previously estimated".

Earlier this year, the campaign group warned that technology companies such as such as Facebook locating data centres in areas that burn fossil fuels could have a particularly negative impact.

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