The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) has released a study that found that enterprises switching from on-premise delivery to services from cloud vendors could result in a 95 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions for email handling, CRM and groupware applications.

The study said that if 80 per cent of organisations in Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Indonesia, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom moved their email, CRM and groupware to the cloud, it would cut of 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

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This represents about 2 per cent of the total IT carbon footprint in those countries and would be equivalent to taking 1.7 million cars off the road, GeSI said.

Relying on cloud vendors' multi-tenant services rather than having enterprises running numerous on-premise servers could result in substantial energy savings thanks to a cut in server numbers of around 92 per cent, according to the study.

Of the 11 counties examined in the study, GeSI estimated annual cost savings of US$2.2 billion. If most of the world's enterprises were to take up cloud computing for their large-scale IT operations, GeSI projected it could abate about 9.1 gigatonnes of CO2 and save US$1.9 trillion in gross energy and fuel costs by 2020 -- about 16 per cent of the total Eurozone debt today.

However, barriers to widespread adoption of cloud services remain. GeIS conducted a survey from November 2011 to October 2012 and found 90 per cent of 41 leaders from various IT industry associations feel cloud vendors tend to have a 'one size fits all' approach when it comes to marketing their services.

Eighty per cent don't believe cloud vendors present a strong enough business case for them to confidently go ahead and switch to the cloud.