Environmental Protection

Serving Sustainability – a Company and its Cloud

While many companies tout their efforts to operate more sustainably, or lessen their environmental impact, few can measure how they are helping other businesses do the same. Salesforce.com is ready to do both, as documented in its first sustainability report.

Salesforce.com’s applications and platforms are delivered in the form of subscription services via the internet and greatly reduce customers’ burdens of owning and managing IT infrastructure. Beyond that, customers also realize substantial environmental savings when they move to salesforce.com’s platform.

Because salesforce.com’s multi-tenant cloud systems were designed from scratch for massive economies of scale, salesforce.com is able to perform secure business operations—for a planet-wide portfolio of companies—with 95% less carbon footprint than the same tasks being done by traditional on-premise data centers. It’s simple, really: while legacy systems run thousands and thousands of redundant copies of common software such as operating systems and database managers, salesforce.com is able to run only as many copies as required for reliable and manageable function.

This adds up to impressive results. Between 1999 and 2011, salesforce.com estimates that its multi-tenant model helped avoid the equivalent of 796,900 metric tons of CO2 emissions, compared to what would have come from the use of traditionally designed IT facilities. As more and more companies become salesforce.com customers, these savings will grow at a rising rate.

A twenty-fold reduction in carbon footprint, per unit of business workload performed, is a starting point that some might be proud to call their destination – but salesforce.com is not stopping there. The cloud computing model uniquely enables seamless service improvement, without the customer costs and disruptions that often delay traditional IT upgrades: this means that salesforce.com’s continual efficiency efforts are rapidly reflected in customer workloads, and salesforce.com data center efficiency has improved by a further 4% during the period from January 2011 to January 2012.

Moreover, the company is striving to burn cleaner watts and fewer watt-hours, with a recently announced commitment to work steadily towards being fully powered by renewable energy.

Over the long haul, improvement depends on measurement – so salesforce.com is also committed to helping its customers, and all other IT buyers, pursue IT sustainability based on measuring results rather than merely monitoring activity. Rather than treating all IT operations as equally useful, in terms of the work that they do, salesforce.com measures “carbon per transaction” – not just carbon per computing cycle.

It’s essential to measure carbon per unit of useful work, not just gross carbon output, because so many customers are shifting their workloads into salesforce.com’s more efficient facilities. During the year ending in January 2012, the company processed 63% more transactions than during the year before – but lowered the carbon per transaction by 20%.

Finally, salesforce.com strives to demonstrate sustainable practices in building design, office management, business travel and employment practices – as well as global philanthropic support, with a unique 1/1/1 model whereby the company provides not only financial support, but also 1% of employees’ time, for efforts including many sustainability initiatives.

By offering sustainably produced services, modeling sustainable business practices, and helping customers advance on their own journeys of improvement, salesforce.com is committed to harness its culture of innovation to build a better world.

The saleforce.com FY12 Corporate Sustainability Report is available in full at www.salesforce.com/company/sustainability.  

About the Author

Peter Coffee joined salesforce.com in 2007 after 19 years as a senior contributor to the enterprise IT journals PC Tech Journal, PC Week and eWEEK. As VP and Head of Platform Research, he works with enterprise IT professionals, system integrators, independent developers, and IT policymakers to build the global community using cloud application platforms including salesforce.com's Force.com and Heroku.

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