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At Your Office Anywhere we’ve been highlighting how green cloud computing is for years but announcements at the Glasgow COP26 climate change summit require big UK firms to show how they will achieve net-zero for their company.   What is net-zero for a company?  Well it’s primarily about reducing a company’s energy consumption and carbon emissions where they can, and compensating for emissions where they can’t. Public cloud services can go a long way to helping companies and their supply chain achieve their net-zero commitments.

The commitment to reducing carbon footprint isn’t just limited to big corporations.  Each and every small business making small changes can have a massive effect on their environmental impact.

Many small businesses are still running their own on-premise server to handle the data and documents used to manage their businesses. The argument being that the total cost of ownership of a server may work out cheaper than hosting servers in commercial data centres or public cloud services. This may or may not be true, depending on circumstances, but what is undeniable is that the carbon cost of on-premise servers is massive compared with hosting the same server in the cloud.

Here’s the maths:

In an article by ZDNet it is shown that the average on premise server uses 850W or electricity every hour.

850W per hour or 0.85kWh

x 24 = 20.4 kWh per day

x 365 = 7,446 kWh per year

or 1.736 tonnes of CO2 *

*based on conversion factor of 0.23314 kg CO2 for every kWh from Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy


Why is cloud computing greener?

In our UK data centres, we run hosted remote desktop servers. These are virtual machines running on physical servers, not dramatically different than the servers businesses may have on site.

The big difference is that, taking into account infrastructure to run the platform, we would have an average of 15 customer’s virtual servers running on each physical server. That’s the equivalent of 14 physical servers removed from customer sites for each server we have in our data centre.  Or a saving of 14 x 850W per hour per server

So again, here’s the maths:

Saving of 14 servers at average of 850W per server

14 x 850W per hour = 11.9 kWh

x 24 = 285.6 kWh per year

x 365 = 104,244 kWh per year

or 24.3 tonnes of CO2 saved every year for each physical server in our data centre. That’s the equivalent of taking 5 cars off the road each year, just for one server.  Several hundred cars across all our servers and customers.


Does saving carbon emission also save money?

Absolutely!  People may be concerned about the current cost of swapping petrol for electric cars and the cost to charge them, but with cloud computing there is no such dilemma, you will save money.

Some more maths:

850W per hour = 7,446 kWh per year

Average price per kWh = £0.28 according to gov.uk 

Therefore, on average, every physical server costs:

£2,084.88 a year in electricity

Then of course there is the carbon cost of building each of these 14 unnecessary on-premise servers and the industrial waste once the servers reach end of life.

Even the saving in disk drives will have a big accumulative impact.  Each on premise server may have many redundant disks, probably only using half the space on each, which will eventually be scrapped.  In a data centre the disk usage is far more efficient so much less wastage when they reach end of life.


How else is cloud computing helping the environment?

In 2020 people were all asked to work from home if they can. Cloud computing made that possible.  Now, people are working from home because they can. Many businesses are realising the cost saving of enabling people to work from home, including smaller offices, less power, heating etc. For the people working from home they are contributing to a massive saving in carbon emissions because they don’t need to commute to work every day.  In 2019 the average person commuting by car was travelling 782 miles per year in their daily commutes, or 161Kg of CO2.


How is Your Office Anywhere as a company reducing its carbon footprint?

The UK is the first country in the world to set legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we all have to play our part.  We review our own power usage and the energy usage of our supply chain.   Customer demand from companies like Your Office Anywhere, are encouraging data centre providers to do what they can to reduce energy usage, use more renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.  To this end our data centre provider, Iomart, is a signatory to the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres.  This is an important landmark on the tech industries response to the challenge of reaching net zero emissions.

As a business we need to take our own climate action, we encourage home working to reduce the impact of carbon emissions and almost 1/3rd of our workforce work from home permanently.


Is cloud computing just for big business?

Not at all. Here at Your Office Anywhere we specialise in helping small business move their desktop client/server applications to the cloud, getting rid of that gas guzzling server sat in the corner of the office, and helping them achieve their own net-zero emissions.

If you would like to know more about how hosted desktops can reduce your carbon footprint and help combat climate change please contact us using the form below.