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Who Knew Clouds Were Green?

Saving the earth one cloud at a time

Cloud computing vendors and applications are sprouting up all over the place. At our company, WorkXpress we now use a range of cloud computing products to power several full-time mission critical functions. Key examples include our telephone system (we are very happy with Grasshopper.com), our email (we have 50 free email accounts through use of Google App's, http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/index.html) and our business software (we use WorkXpress.com for such things as project management, sales force automation and accounting).

We also use cloud based services to satisfy a lot of part time needs. Examples include email marketing, receipt of credit card payments, managing our banking and more.

Operational cost savings drove our adoption of cloud computing products. Since we switched our phone system, we reduced our corresponding expenses by over 35%, and we started receiving better features and benefits. Switching our email service not only saved us a few hundred dollars a month in hosting and administrator time, but we now get the benefit of much better spam and virus filtering.

These operational savings have also caused us to revisit our own product development plan. We decided to accelerate a "lights out" features that enables WorkXpress servers to auto-detect inactivity and then shut down. Our customers will save thousands of dollars each month versus our previous method of simply buying a cloud server and letting it stay on full time. Looking back, it's amazing that we waited this long to implement the feature; the only penalty is that the first person to use a "sleeping" cloud server will have to wait about a minute while it "wakes up". Meanwhile, the server incurs no cost.

But a sleeping server also spends no energy. In general, cloud computing services are much more efficient, and spend much less energy then their counterparts. For example, a phone system used to live in a wiring closet and consume power even though most of the time it wasn't even in use. The same with an email server. With cloud based alternatives, the vendors are focused on minimizing these consumption habits, and are spreading their power consumption out over many customers. In the case of the WorkXpress lights out feature, the cloud servers are completely shut down, eliminating the consumption caused by running an operating system and other features.

These initiatives have been so successful for us, any time a cloud vendor deploys a new solution to some business problem our attitude has changed to eager anticipation away from skeptical evaluation. Our operational cost savings has been material. And even if our power consumption is reduced on the whole by only 10%, what would the global impact be if everyone realized that same benefit?

This post was originally posted on the Central Penn Business Journal Gadget Cube.

More Stories By Treff LaPlante

Treff LaPlante has been involved with technology for nearly 20 years. At WorkXpress, he passionately drives the vision of making customized enterprise software easy, fast, and affordable.

Prior to joining WorkXpress, Treff was director of operations for eBay's HomesDirect. While there, he created strategic relationships with Fortune 500 companies and national broker networks and began his foray into the development of flexible workflow software technologies. He served on the management team that sold HomesDirect to eBay.

During his time at Vivendi-Universal Interactive, Treff was director of strategy. In addition to M&A activities, Treff broadly applied quantitative management principles to sales, marketing, and product line functions. Treff served as the point person for the management team that sold Cendant Software to Vivendi-Universal. Earlier positions included product management and national sales trainer for Energy Design Systems, an engineering software company. Treff began his professional career as a metals trader for Randall Trading Corp, a commodities firm that specialized in bartering and transporting various metals and coal from the then-dissolving Soviet Union.

Treff received his MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. http://www.workxpress.com

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