Sustainability of cloud computing is becoming an “hot issue” because a global shift to booming social networking, mobile computing replacing PCs, cloud based services (PAAS, IAS, SAAS) replacing on premises resources. The following ones are some examples of what’s on about this topic, involving companies providing cloud services and infrastructures and NGOs that are launching viral marketing campaigns. I’ve also discussed shortly about it during the A&S-IACCM webinar.
- Increase Facebook’s use of clean energy;
- Develop a plan to mitigate Facebook’s climate footprint and to become coal free by 2021;
- Educate Facebook users about how the company powers its services.
- Advocate for clean energy at a local, national and international level.
and published the document: “Make IT Green: Cloud computing and its contribution to climate change”
“As cloud computing becomes more common and demands on the internet grow, major companies hosting online services are using more and more energy for their data centers. This report looks at the contribution of cloud computing to climate change and what can be done by the ICT sector to help bring about, and benefit from, strong renewable energy policies and economy-wide emissions reductions.”
On April 21, 2011 GreenPeace has released another report “How Dirty is Your Data” about the energy demands of data centers, and the dirty sources that that energy comes from in some of them.
From the Introduction : “Data centres to house the explosion of virtual information currently consume 1.5-2% of all global electricity; this is growing at a rate of 12% a year.”
On the Facebook side it’s interesting to look at Open Compute Project, an industry-wide initiative, inspired by the model of open source software, to share specifications and best practices for creating “the most energy efficient and economical data centers”. A small team of Facebook engineers spent the past two years tackling a big challenge: how to scale our computing infrastructure in the most efficient and economical way possible. They started with a clean slate, take total control over every part of the system, from the software to the servers to the data center. This meant they could for example:
- Use an high efficency 480-volt electrical distribution system to reduce energy loss. Ethernet-powered LED lighting.
- Remove anything in our servers that didn’t contribute to efficiency. Use vanity free servers, with no extra plastic and significantly fewer parts than traditional servers
- Reuse hot aisle air in winter to both heat the offices and the outside air flowing into the data center. The mechanical system uses 100% airside economization with an evaporative cooling system.
- Eliminate the need for a central uninterruptible power supply.
The claimed result is that the Prineville data center has achieved an initial power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.07, compared with an average of 1.5 for the existing Facebook facilities; it uses 38% less energy to do the same work while costing 24% less. The specifications are available at http://opencompute.org/.
On the same topic, to get a more global vision I should suggest you to read these posts:
- How Green is Facebook, Microsoft Push into Cloud Computing? written by the MediaShift editor and climate blogger Corbin Hiar. (referenced by GreenPeace so with the same vision)
- Moving ICT to the clouds by Molly Webb on the carbon impact of data centres and whether companies should switch to cloud computing for the Guardian Professional Network guardian.co.uk, Friday 21 January 2011
And these White Papers:
- The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud by Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy
- Energy-Efficient Management of Data Center Resources for Cloud Computing: A Vision, Architectural Elements, and Open Challenges by Rajkumar Buyya, Anton Beloglazov, and Jemal Abawajy