One of the selling points for Cloud Computing is the idea of green. Vendors and evangelists get excited while talking about the “green-ness” of Cloud Computing. Part of it is plain marketing nonsense and part of it is true. In this era where a huge industry survives based on its ability to numb out the thought process of the general public and make them think in a certain way by targeted repetitive messages, many are simply convinced that Cloud Computing is the green way to do computing. In this post, let us take a deeper look on this claim and, also, see how Finland is really managing to save this planet while setting up datacenters for cloud computing.
When the vendors and evangelists say that a business moving to cloud saves the environment, they actually point out to the energy savings a business can achieve by taking all their infrastructure to cloud instead of running their own datacenter(s). The very fact that most of the cloud vendors tap into virtualization for consolidation and have achieved operational efficiency ensures that such a move will be greener than the datacenter operations of the business. There is definitely a significant amount of energy savings and, hence, cost savings for the business.
However, with the proliferation of cloud based infrastructure offerings, SaaS applications, etc. and the associated cloud economics, the usage of computing is also increasing many fold. In fact, the advantage of cloud computing is the ability to access apps and data from using any device including mobile devices. This opens up opportunities for people in developing countries and, even, in some underdeveloped countries of the world to use computing in their daily lives. Such an increase in demand leads to a huge increase in supply of (cloud) computing. This, in turn, leads to increased energy consumption and an increased impact on the global climate.
Today, Reuters carries a news about how a Helsinki city power firm is preparing the world’s greenest datacenter. They have figured out a way to recyle the heat generated in their datacenter to heat the houses in Helsinki.
Excess heat from hundreds of computer servers to be located in the bedrock beneath Uspenski Cathedral, one of Helsinki’s most popular tourist sites, will be captured and channeled into the district heating network, a system of water-heated pipes used to warm homes in the Finnish capital.
This is a real smart way to tackle the energy problem. On one hand, they are helping the datacenter with cheaper options to cool and, on the other hand, they are helping the city residents to heat their homes in a cheap way. These actions leads to reducing the impact on the planet’s climate. It is a win-win-win situation.
It is time for the datacenter operators and utility companies to come together to find smart ways for cooling and power generation in this cloud based era so that our many fold increase in use of computing doesn’t accelerate the eventual destruction of the civilizations in this planet. Such attempts at non-renewable energy options are not just a liberal fantasy but, also, fits in the conservative agenda of cost savings. As I told in the last paragraph, it is a win-win-win situation.