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Cloud Computing Highlighted as an Emissions-Reduction Strategy

Companies using outsourced data centers can save thousands of dollars per year in energy costs, as well as make significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent study.

Based on the energy savings earned by customers of NetSuite, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company based in San Mateo, Calif., companies can save an average of $10,000 a year by outsourcing their computing needs to highly efficient and optimized third parties.

A study conducted by Greenspace, an Illinois-based vendor of green building supplies, found that NetSuite customers who signed up for the company's Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management software services saved a combined $61 million in energy bills per year. The energy savings, equaling almost 595 million kilowatt-hours, led to avoided greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 423,000 metric tons of CO2.

The findings add further support to the notion that cloud computing, the growing practice of outsourcing applications, storage and other computing functions to specialized companies, is a promising green business practice.

Cloud computing providers are able to focus their efforts on maximizing the performance and efficiency of their computing operations, and as a result are often able to perform at much higher levels of utilization than individual companies, especially smaller firms with fewer IT resources.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that its 2010 version of its Office software suite would be available in an online version for free, similar to Google's Google Docs service. These two companies highlight how efficient cloud computing services can be, with both Microsoft and Google having achieved industry-leading energy efficiency levels for their data centers.

In tandem with the release of Greenspace's research, which is available as a white paper (PDF) from NetSuite's website, NetSuite has announced a 50 percent discount for new customers subscribing to its software suite.

Greenspace, which is also a NetSuite customer, used the research project as an opportunity to develop its EcoMetrics scorecard system, which aims to help businesses accurately assess the green aspects or potential of its operations.

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