| By Katherine Murray |
Office 365, the cloud-based offering from Microsoft that gives users access to Office and other applications for a small monthly subscription fee, launched last week to a modest amount of public acclaim.
From a computing vantage point, cloud services such as Office 365 look quite promising. But are they the smart choice for saving energy?
What that gigantic cloud will bring to computing
Cloud computing emerges from the idea that large data centers can manage the heavy lifting of technical support for us — including software and server upgrades, data storage and security, and other maintenance matters that cost us a lot of money and concern. Instead of each of us keeping powerhouse computers on our desks, hauling around heavy laptops, and investing in lots of software for our standalone needs, we can use Internet-based services — through our browsers or smartphones — to do work, share files, meet virtually, and more. And maybe we can sit at a sidewalk café on a warm summer day while putting the finishing touches on a worksheet.
What’s not to like about that? Purchasing, updating, and day-to-day support for both our computing hardware and software aren’t on our shoulders anymore. For lots of individuals and businesses, from small virtual teams to huge corporate enterprises, that’s an attractive scenario.
Then there’s the general buzz that cloud computing is also better for the planet: we can do our work without the inefficient, power-hungry hardware we’re probably using now. The theory is that we will cut down on our energy use, work more lightly and flexibly, and let our service hosts (such as Microsoft, for Office 365) worry about hardware upgrades and power surges.
We can stay focused on our real areas of expertise.
Greenpeace reports on cloud service providers
For years, Greenpeace has published a report on the green status of technology companies. This report lets the big players — Apple, Facebook, Google, HP, Microsoft, Sony, and others — know that we’re paying attention to their practices.