While the industry has seen unprecedented growth in the recent years, there are challenges. Data centers consume tremendous amounts of power - often produced by "dirty" sources such as fossil fuels. Increasing demand for cloud infrastructure is set to boost power consumption over the coming years.
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"This current path [of energy consumption] is unsustainable, as we are barely scratching the surface of data that's projected to come at us in the coming years," Martin Fink, chief technology officer of Hewlett Packard (HP) told CNBC.
Greenpeace estimates that if the global cloud computing industry were a country, it would rank sixth globally - right after Russia and before Germany - in terms of power consumption. The cloud's aggregate electricity demand - including data centers and networks - is expected to increase over 60 percent by 2020, according to the environmental lobby group.
U.S. Internet behemoth Amazon came under fire from Greenpeace last month for having among the "dirtiest" clouds in the sector. Its cloud business, Amazon Web Services (AWS), sources just 15 percent of its electricity demand with clean energy, while the rest is powered by coal, nuclear and gas, according to the organization.
Amazon, however, disputes the accuracy of Greenpeace's data. In an email to CNBC, a company spokesperson said, "AWS has been and continues to be committed to...offer cloud services in an environmentally friendly way. AWS operates efficient and highly utilized data centers across 10 different regions globally, two of which (Oregon and GovCloud Regions) use 100 percent carbon-free power."
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The cloud's efficiency drive
Growing awareness in government and corporate circles around data center power consumption has demanded more proactive steps to reducing the industry's energy footprint.