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Go-Green with Cloud Computing: Benefits to HR

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Cloud Computing is the hot topic in today’s World. Cloud computing comes with the great advantage of providing higher energy savings, a fact which translates into being environmentally friendly. In the last few years, technology has improved immensely, taking the environment into account and providing a solution for those worrying about carbon footprints and the impact of technology into the environment. In the last couple of decades, HR has re-invented itself from the mundane activities like Industrial Relations, labour etc. to the front of a Company’s Business radar on par with Marketing, Finance, Administration and other departments. HR managers today use hundreds of strategic and collaborative technology tools to keep up the HR function fast moving. But lot of these technology tools is not implemented in a large number of Small & Medium Enterprises (SME) who forms 75% of our country’s market. Why? Because many of the SME’s are of the opinion that HR systems are expensive. With Go Green advantage of Cloud Computing; when implemented for HR systems will definitely take Human Resource Management function to the next level in the organizations of all size.

Cloud computing, Green computing, HR Benefits, Green IT, Human Resources

Cloud computing is a technology that uses the Internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications. Cloud computing allows consumers and businesses to use application without installation and access their personal files at any computer with internet access. This technology allows for much more efficient computing by centralizing storage, memory, processing and bandwidth. There are many kinds of Cloud Computing and some of them are: * Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

* Platform as a service (PaaS)
* Software as a service (SaaS)

Fig 1. Cloud Computing Architecture

Cloud computing relies on sharing resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale similar to utilities like electricity grid over a network. At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of converged infrastructure and shared services. Simple example of cloud computing is Yahoo email or Gmail. Here somebody does not need software or a server to use them. All a consumer would need is just an internet connection and can start sending emails. The server and email management software is all on the cloud and is totally managed by the cloud service provider Yahoo, Google etc. Green Computing

Green computing is a continuous journey and everyone is responsible to play their role to make computing ‘greener’ with the optimized energy usage to operate the electronic device environmental friendly. Many companies are trying to improve their daily operations with environmental friendly strategies and green products. Reducing paper usage, cutting back on energy consumption, and allowing employees to work remotely or telecommute are all ways to do that. Each of these can be achieved by migrating your software and data storage to a Cloud or Internet based system.

Here are few ways in which organizations can save money, save the planet and improve efficiency with cloud computing: Electricity: If the organizations leverage Cloud based services instead of setting up their own Data Centers, then it can cut Power consumption by about 25% [as per Gartner report]. Laptops, netbooks and smartphones use less energy, are more useful for those on the go compared to the Desktop computers. This is a major green benefit from cloud computing.

Fig 2. – Carbon Footprint Statistics
Outsourcing: Cloud computing is a great cost-cutter, because the pay-as-you-go model allows you to choose only the applications you need, instead of having to pay for the entire suite of software. You can also eliminate IT personnel, because upgrade and maintenance worries are shouldered by your cloud computing vendor. Reduction in Space Consumption: The Company does not need to invest in a lot of expensive equipment they will not fully utilize, such as servers or multiple copies of software for the office. This means less waste to end up in landfills. Time to Market: Firms looking to develop and provide new services to their employees and customers can do this far more effectively through cloud computing model.

Cloud based model enables creation of new server instances in minutes, which used to take many days without cloud adoption. Less Transportation as a result less emission of gases: Cloud computing offer companies the best way to communicate with sales representatives, partners, managers and customers. They can use email, mobile devices, social media, video or Web conferencing or chat rooms for effective collaboration. No one needs to travel to business meetings from long distances to collaborate thus reducing Carbon footprint. Less paper usage: Online collaboration and the use of applications that run in the cloud eliminate the need to send multiple copies of documents via mail or courier. This reduces paper and other materials, as well as emissions.


HR workplace today has many benefits in using cloud computing applications. The average corporation uses a ratio of one human resource professional to every one hundred employees and actively considering that many corporations are either international or perhaps dispersed globally.

Security: The HR department typically deals with sensitive information. Therefore, having this information securely stored on a remote server reduces concerns about loss of information due to breach of security or damage from fire, water or a natural disaster. In this backdrop of concern cloud computing application providers keep Information backup, secure the data, and keep various versions.

HR Management Software: In the large corporations with operations spread over across the continents, cloud computing is fast emerging as an effective tool for faster processing of information specially in the core HR domains like recruitment, performance management, payroll processing etc. To be more specific, a good cloud computing system can, among other things – track job applications, search résumés, generate reports, calculate payroll, track performance appraisals and maintain data on employees. Putting the HR department ‘on the cloud’ facilitates a mobile workforce and should also allow flexibility as well as being more cost effective than traditional software with speedier setup.

Operating cost: Many smaller companies have been reluctant to purchase HR software, perhaps because of cost concerns. Cloud computing makes it affordable for any size of business. Due to this new revolution in technology application, there is no need for in-house IT technicians, server space or expensive software licenses. Any professional with an Internet browser or mobile device can access the cloud. SaaS providers have been offering cost-effective solutions for HR and other departments of all size.

Highly Scalable: Cloud computing also ensures that companies have instant and continual access to the latest advances and legal issues as they may affect HR issues. Companies are not static. Needs change as organisations grow, restructure, merge, acquire new businesses or simply change focus. Updating an internally-hosted IT system to reflect these changes can be an unwieldy process. Work from Home: Having employees work from home is also environmental friendly, however it can be very costly for businesses to set these employees up with their own hardware, software licenses and with an in-house IT support team. If companies leverage Cloud based HR services, then the applications can be accessed from anywhere and anytime eliminating the need for dedicated IT team and hardware.

There are number of fundamental steps that can be taken to significantly decrease the environmental impact of computing. These mainly involve measures for reducing energy consumption, and may be grouped under the following headings:

Lower power hardware: Several companies have now launched energy efficient “green” PCs that consume as little as 20W of power (compared to the typical 100W to 200W of an average desktop computer).Several mainstream manufacturers are now starting to launch relatively- low power PCs or “net tops” usually based on Atom processor. .

Virtualization: Within data centers, server consolidation applies virtualization in its replacement of many stand-alone physical servers with virtual servers that run as software on a small number of larger computers.

Energy efficient coding: The principle behind energy efficient coding is to save power by getting software to make less use of the hardware, rather than continuing to run the same code on hardware that uses less power.

Less pollutant manufacture: A great many hazardous chemicals – including lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium, brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – are used to make computers. By reducing the use of such substances, hardware manufacturers could prevent people being exposed to them, as well as enabling more electronics waste to be safely recycled.


Vendor Name| HR Application| Features and Benefits
Oracle| Oracle Fusion Human Capital Management| Built in Business Intelligence, Networking and collaborative capabilities and embassy grade security.| Dresser & Associates, Inc.| Sage HRMS| The system includes core HR, talent management, workforce management and learning management capabilities.| Kanexa (Acquired by IBM)| Kanexa Cloud HR Application| Leading cloud based HR software providing many HR functions like recruiting, compensation, performance management, employee surveys.| EPICOR| EPICOR SaaS HR Software| * Basic human resource management functionality * Direct access for candidates, employees, and managers * Performance management * Talent management * Benefits and absence tracking * Payroll| Gizmosys| Gizmosys HRM| Employee management, leave & attendance management, Online Leave Requisitions & Approvals, training management, Recruitment management, Payroll|

Table 1 – Few HR based applications and its benefits


The business case is developed for a hypothetical food & beverage firm called The XYZ Company. This study helps in understanding the advantages of using either Private/Public cloud over dedicated IT setup, Cost savings and net energy savings.

The XYZ Company Profile
* Sector: Food and beverage
* Annual Revenue: $10 billion
* Employees: 60,000
* Global penetration: Operations in 30 countries

Fig 3: Diagram showing dedicated IT, Private and Public Cloud

The firm is in a situation whereby it will lose operational support for its HR application within one year. We modeled the transition and operational costs associated with the following two scenarios over a five year period and compared them to the costs of simply upgrading to the latest version of the application.

Scenario 1
The firm moves to an HR application in the public cloud.

Scenario 2
The firm moves an HR application in the private (internal) cloud.

| Scenario 1| Scenario 2|
Scenario Definition| The HR application is currently deployed on dedicated IT and will lose operational support within one year.| | This scenario looks at the business case for switching from an HR application deployed on dedicated IT to an HR system in the public cloud.| This scenario looks at the business case for switching from an HR application deployed on dedicated IT to an HR system in the private (internal) cloud.| Implementation & Operations Cost – Over Five years|

| The total lifetime cost of implementing and operating the public cloud solution over five years is $12.3 million. This compares to $24.6 million to upgrade and operate a dedicated IT solution over the same time frame.| The total lifetime cost of implementing & operating the private cloud solution over five years is $20 million. The additional costs relate to a greater implementation effort required for a private cloud as well as a higher number of employees to support the private cloud service). This compares to $24.6 million to upgrade and operate a dedicated IT solution over the same time frame.| Capital Savings|

| No license fee required or ongoing server replacement program. No system customizations necessary which would be expected from an upgrade to the latest HR system deployed on a dedicated IT environment| Reduced server replacement program due to virtualization of servers| | No electricity payments and reduced FTE support costs| Reduced FTE costs and electricitypayments (as a result of reducednumber of servers)| CO2 Emission reduction|

| The XYZ Company transitioning its human resources(HR) application from dedicated IT to a public cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 30,000 metric tons over five years. These reductions are equivalent to the annual emissions from 5,900 passenger vehicles| The XYZ Company transitioning its HR application fromdedicated IT to a private internalcloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 25,000 metric tons over five years. These reductions are equivalent to the annual emissions from 4,900 passenger vehicles.| Cloud computing delivers a positive net present value (NPV)| | The XYZ Company transitioning its HR application from dedicated IT to a public cloud can achieve a NPV of $10.1 million over five years with a payback period ofunder a year.| The XYZ Company transitioning its HR application from dedicated IT to a private internal cloud can achieve a NPV of $4.4 million over five years with the payback coming during year two.| Upfront Investement costs|

Hardware purchase| Hardware owned and managedby cloud provider so no purchasenecessary| No upfront investment in hardware as existing servers can be virtualized| Headcount reduction| 75% of the FTEs supporting theapplication no longer required| 25% of the FTEs supporting theapplication no longer required|

US cloud computing adoption forecast shows a big economic saving – $12.3 billion a year by 2020, as per Vedantix, an independent analyst firm focused on energy, environment and sustainability. As a part of Carbon Disclosure project, Vedantix conducted interviews to over 2653 global firms with an annual revenue in US above $1 billion and provided the model derived percentage spend of US multi billion Dollar revenue firms on IT deployment solutions and mode derived Net energy savings for the period 2011- 2020.

Fig 4: Model derived percentage spend of US multi billion dollar revenue firms on IT deployment solutions 2011-2020.

Fig 5: Model derived net energy savings 2011-2020


Green computing attempts to have a reduced impact on the environment. Green computing is not about going out and designing biodegradable packaging for products. Now the time has come to think about using the computers and the resources efficiently and which are non-renewable. Finally it can be said that the multiple benefits of cloud computing applications have proved themselves as the future for companies’ technical needs. In dealing with the modern business world, there is no more effective way of sharing information in a secure, technological and cost effective manner. HR as a major domain can also become the one of the most intervened area of application of this technology. As, the existing HR systems are highly expensive and technologically most complicated to establish, cloud computing platforms can be the dream option to them as it does not require any maintenance, infrastructure, storage space and expensive software.

The business case above showed that, deploying the HR or any other business application either to Private or Public cloud could reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), CO2 emission and increase revenue of the organizations of all sizes.


1. Cloud Computing on Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing 2. Amazon Web Services, http://aws.amazon.com
3. Carbon Disclosure Project, http://www.cdproject.net
4. Vedantix Analyst Firm, http://www.vedantix.com
5. Bookman International Journal of Software Engineering, Vol. 1 No. 1 Sep. 2012 ISSN No. 2319-4278 © Bookman International Journals 3 6. Qi Zhang, Lu Cheng, Raouf Boutaba – April 2010 – “Cloud computing: State-of-the-art and research challenges” – 7. Dr. Sajal Kabiraj, Dr. Vinay Topkar, R.C. Walke (2010) “Going Green: A Holistic Approach to Transform Business”. 8. Epicor Solutions, http://www.epicor.com/Solutions/Pages/Human-Capital-Management.aspx 9.
Mydhili K Nair, Dr. V. Gopalakrishna, (2009) – ”Generic Web Services: A Step towards Green Computing“ 1(3), 248-253

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