Salesforce.com, probably the largest online applications company, has announced a commitment to steadily increase the amount of renewable energy it uses in its data centre operations “to reach our goal to be fully powered by renewable energy”, although no target date was mentioned.
Salesforce.com provides cloud-based (or Software-as-a-Service – SaaS – for those that have been in the industry a bit longer) sales and marketing solutions. This delivery model means that using its solutions will often be a greener alternative to using in-house software, since users share data centre facilities and resources. The company has already publishes some details of its sustainability achievements, but the renewable energy commitment takes it a stage further.
The company has provided details of the initial steps it will take in 2013 towards the 100% renewable energy promise, which are:
Siting data centres near clean and renewable energy supplies.
Researching energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for future data centres.
Encouraging energy providers to increase their supply of renewable energy.
Discussing with similar companies, sustainability specialists and energy experts on how to make data centres greener energy users.
Salesforce.com promises an update on its efforts next year.
Review: Well Salesforce.com is certainly starting from the right place. It’s services have the potential to be inherently more energy efficient, but as far as I’m aware the company has never really pushed the green IT aspect as a selling point, which seems to be missing a trick.
As a cloud services provider the company relies on data centres for service delivery. But it is also fast growing, which makes any absolute reduction in emissions difficult, so it has no hard and fast reduction targets. In its first Sustainability Report (for the 2012 financial year) the company reported that its CO2e emissions per employee and per dollar revenue were both down.
Given the difficulty in reducing absolute emissions, the cynic in me wonders why the company hasn’t looked to renewable energy before. Data centre efficiency is important, but the ultimate goal is emissions reduction, so for a fast growing cloud company using renewable energy is an obvious solution. Google, for example, not only uses a lot of renewable energy but invests in the generating companies.