Storing data in central locations accessible through the internet has quickly become the business choice in the past few years. Previously, companies have relied on hard copy practices or office-based servers to store and share information. However, such methods induce significant costs to the business and present security issues that add to the risks inherent in an increasingly information-led world.
By centralising information storage and providing innovative applications to share this information inside and outside the company, Cloud-based approaches avoid the need for costly practices such as printing and hard copy retention. Companies that once relied on rows of filing cabinets can free up office space, save time and reduce manpower. Desks spilling over with piles of papers should be a thing of the past.
Another aspect of Cloud hosting that is less well perceived are the eco benefits. Office-based servers are energy hungry. In a 24-hour business world, they can in constant use, eating electricity and they can get hot, requiring cooling solutions for the larger models. Yet for those companies not experiences huge traffic volumes, it’s not possible just to switch off a server in slow times. Servers need to be up and running.
For larger companies using in-house servers, there is a need for specific room environments; specially designed rooms that maintain temperature and humidity. Movements away from a paper-less office aren’t always beneficial to the environment.
By providing a central server facility, Cloud hosting removes costs from individual companies and reduces their carbon footprint significantly. While it’s true that any given Cloud hosting site will consume many times the amount of energy that might be expended by a small or large company with its own server, it’s also true that such hosting sites wouldn’t come near to expending the combined amounts energy required by each of their clients.
More importantly, for central hosting sites, the cost of energy use is critical to their business model. Maintaining huge banks of servers requires space but, in the usual running environment, minimal levels of staffing. The investment required to establishing a site may be vast, but the employee overheads are reduced. What that leaves is the energy consumption required to run and cool those servers, not to mention the need to maintain a constant humidity in the server rooms.
With energy consumption so critical to a company’s margins, the biggest hosting centres have placed an emphasis on minimising energy use whilst also seeking eco-friendly solutions. European-based hosting 90Systems uses sustainable geothermal and hydroenergy sources rather than drawing on usual energy grids to power their hosting centre.
Such an example exposes the more fundamental point; operating within a global internet, data centres have no requirement to establish their sites inside traditional business environments. There’s no need to establish a huge hosting centre in New York or Los Angeles because access speeds are not an issue.
Hosting companies can choose their location based on criteria that directly impact upon their margins. Rental costs or business rates can be minimised and in the same way, energy consumption and environmental impact can be reduced significantly simply by locating data centres in the most conducive location.
Of course cloud-hosting is more eco-friendly. It serves the purpose by default and companies choosing a cloud-based solution for their information needs can help the planet without making too much of an effort.