Bluelock Blog

Building Sustainable Clouds

October 1, 2009 by Alicia Gaba
Ariel Schwartz wrote an interesting article in Fast Company recently titled “Can Cloud Computing Ever Truly Be Sustainable?”  Schwartz brought up some interesting facts, such as:
  • Data centers are responsible for 1.5% of all power used in the United States
  • Without energy efficiency measures, data center consumption will total $7.4 billion annually by 2011. (We’re at $4.5 billion annually today).

With those large statistics in mind, will cloud computing become the sustainable option?  Is cloud computing, a technology that uses mega-data centers, just going to make this problem worse?  Or, is one of the greatest benefits of cloud computing the fact that it is and/or can be the most environmentally friendly option?

Thankfully, large companies like IBM and HP (both BlueLock partners) have already made some moves towards cutting data center energy consumption.  IBM just began building a data center in New York that will use 50% less energy than traditional facilities.  Some of the technologies being used in new eco-friendly data centers include:
  • On-site electrical co-generation systems with gas-fueled micro-turbine engines
  • Water-cooled server racks
  • Sensors to direct workloads to optimal servers
  • Cooling towers to evaporate excess heat and recycle cooled down water back into the facility

With the growing popularity of cloud computing, those data centers must be built with energy-efficiency in mind for two reason, both very good for all parties involved: because when we’re good to the environment it will be good to us (and our children) and because it cuts down on power costs, and I don’t know who wouldn’t benefit from that.

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