However, soon enough companies will come to realize, if they haven't already, that the cloud's green credentials make an even brighter financial option.
In fact, the use of cloud services could reduce businesses' software energy footprint by 87 per cent, research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has shown. According to the Google-funded report, The energy efficiency potential of cloud-based software: a U.S. case study, the energy use of data centres currently accounts for one to two per cent of global electricity use.
Efficiency through innovation
Researchers say that cloud computing has a fantastic potential to reduce data centre energy demand in the future, due to its efficient use of space and facilities compared to traditional data centres.
That might sound a little nebulous, but as with all things cloud it can be translated into the real world. In this case, it's Google's video sharing service YouTube which provides the example that hammers home the point.
YouTube stores all of its video data in energy-efficient data centres and, according to Google, this means the service can stream content for three days on the power it would take to make one DVD.
What makes the cloud green?
Cloud-based data storage uses shared resources and groups multiple servers together so that is can maximise utilisation. This boosts efficiency and in turn cuts costs for users.
Storage, power consumption and run-time processing can all be optimised in a way that can't be achieved in traditional data centres.
Save money and the world
Moving to the cloud means that every available megabyte of storage can be used. The cloud's flexibility means there's no need for contingency server space. That means there's no idle capacity.
With the cloud, you only pay for the space you're using. Doesn't it make environmental and financial sense to only pay for 25GB of storage that you actually use rather than buying and maintaining a 1TB server which leaves you with 925GB of underutilized space?
Professional cloud providers are constantly working to find ways to innovate. This ensures that they'll use the latest technology to help improve energy efficiency and reduce power consumption as much as possible.
Doing your bit as a business
As a business, it's difficult and costly to keep up with the latest in green technology. Moving to the cloud makes doing so much easier as your provider will be striving to improve efficiency and become more environmentally friendly, meaning your carbon footprint should come down.
We create a huge amount of data every single minute and a failure to address the environmental impact of the way that data is stored could cause significant problems for future generations.
Fortunately, the cloud presents an easy way for small businesses to mitigate the potential harm of our online lives.
So, take the next step and move to the cloud, if you haven't already, as your business as well as the plant will benefit from your green approach.