Cloud Computing and Green IT

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.

Greenpeace in February 2011 issued a challenge to Facebook, calling on it “to embrace a clean energy future by committing by Earth Day (April 22nd) to make a plan that would end its use of coal to provide electricity to the company’s rapidly expanding computer network”. It follows the: “Facebook: Unfriend Coal” campaign, that Greenpeace launched to:
  • 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.”

Open Compute Project

Open Compute Project

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

On the same topic, to get a more global vision I should suggest you to read these posts:

And these White Papers:

Originally posted on Feb 24th, 2011 Updated on May 5th, 2011


6 responses to “Cloud Computing and Green IT

  1. I noticed this interesting new post from Microsoft Power and Utilities team, on how the Cloud could help the transform the electric power system of the future, not only by modernizing its existing operations but also by supporting new paradigms like consumer energy management and EVs, to The Role of The Cloud in The Smart Grid

    • This is actually my first time here, really nice looking blog. I found so many interesting things in your blog especially about green it. I favor this website given and it has given me some sort of dedication achievement for a few purpose, so thanks

  2. On Google cloud footprint from:
    Google has added a new section called “The Big Picture” to the Google Green site with numbers on their annual energy use and their carbon footprint.

    I also suggest this new post that helps to understand that even if a DC can be more energy efficient it might be located in cowntry where the elctricity has an higher GHG footprint (I should add to the picture the GHG impact of the long distance network usage).

  3. Two years ago Greenpeace launched its global Unfriend Coal Campaign, enlisting 700,000 online activists to call on Facebook to power its data centers with clean energy instead of coal. Now Greenpeace and Facebook have announced that they will collaborate on the promotion of renewable energy, encourage major utilities to develop renewable energy generation, and develop programs that will enable Facebook users to save energy and engage their communities in clean energy decisions.
    “Greenpeace and Facebook will now work together to encourage major energy producers to move away from coal and instead invest in renewable energy. This move sets an example for the industry to follow,” said Tzeporah Berman, Co-director of Greenpeace’s International Climate and Energy Program. “This shift to clean, safe energy choices will help fight global warming and ensure a stronger economy and healthier communities.”

  4. Pingback: More on Cloud Computing and Green ICT | ICT4Green by Donato Toppeta

  5. Pingback: Green Cloud presentation for the International Green IT Awareness Week 2012 | ICT4Green by Donato Toppeta

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