Microsoft recently released results to a study it commissioned to determine the environmental impact of large data centers compared to small, on-premise data centers in businesses. According to the report, organizations interested in creating sustainable technological solutions should turn to web, server and cloud hosting providers as they can create more environmentally efficient data center environments.
Microsoft's study found services such as multi-tenancy, server utilization and dynamic provisioning make large data centers more environmentally economical than small, on-premise servers. Indeed, small- and medium-sized businesses can achieve up to 90 percent improved efficiency by turning to a virtual server hosting solution.
Large cloud and hosting providers use shared and virtual private servers to distribute multiple tenants over one physical device. This allows anywhere from 10 to hundreds of companies to own their own virtual server on one physical machine. The system is much more efficient than having a business own its own physical servers and power, cool and maintain them on-premise.
The use of virtualization in these hosting environments also maximizes the amount of data stored on a physical server, minimizing the overall need for devices. In many businesses, servers are only filled to partial capacity, wasting energy, space and other resources. Companies often combat this waste by virtualizing their own servers, but Microsoft's study found data centers can more easily manage virtual environments because they can dynamically distribute resources, ensuring that only necessary power is used at any time.
Overall, Microsoft's study is most notable for SMBs. Larger corporations that manage their own in-house data centers have a significant enough need for servers that they can reasonably apply these techniques on their own. For SMBs, however, server use is generally only on a small scale and not maximized for cost or environmental efficiency, making a hosting service a more sustainable solution.