Abstract for: Is it Really Greener in the Cloud? An Investigation of Energy Trends in Cloud Computing

Technology is often heralded as a tool to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions despite a rising global population and increasing global affluence. Cloud computing - a popular method of modern IT deployment - is an emerging demonstration of this mindset. Recent reports claim that businesses can achieve significant reductions in energy consumption, and hence GHG emissions, by shifting their processes to the cloud. These reports rely on largely static models, and provide business with a simple leverage point to achieve immediate GHG reductions. We propose that this well-intentioned action will lead to an increase in absolute energy demand over time. We develop a model that considers recent trends in and between four domains of this problem and identify their key drivers in a business setting. The domains considered are on-site computing, cloud infrastructure, data transport, and device adoption. We identify key feedback loops, and explain that the dominant trends are linked between these domains. We conclude that the trends in these four domains suggest that overall energy demand will increase by moving computing processes to the cloud.