Greenpeace's tenacious Facebook attack shines light on need for 'green cloud' options

Summary:Environmental activist organization Greenpeace just won't get off Facebook's case for planning to invest in a data center facility that happens to be powered by "dirty coal-fired electricity." The latest development is that the Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo has sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to reconsider its planned facility in Prineville, Oregon, which uses power from Pacific Power.

Environmental activist organization Greenpeace just won't get off Facebook's case for planning to invest in a data center facility that happens to be powered by "dirty coal-fired electricity." The latest development is that the Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo has sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to reconsider its planned facility in Prineville, Oregon, which uses power from Pacific Power. As evidence that Facebook SHOULD be interested in this issue, Naidoo points to the Facebook: Unfriend Coal page, which actually has close to 600,000 followers right now. Greenpeace appears to be wanting to guilt Facebook into reconsidering its position by pointing to what other huge forces in cloud computing are doing right:

"Other cloud-based companies face similar choices and challenges as you do in building data centers, yet many are making smarter and cleaner investments. Google, for instance, entered into a long-term agreement with a large wind power producer earlier this month. It has demonstrated that it is not only possible to prioritize the purchase of clean energy, but prudent as well."

Certainly, I have heard very little about Facebook's green IT agenda. If the company wants to be taken seriously, it definitely needs to address this issue -- either by disproving Greenpeace's core argument or by working with its data center power company to address the issue of clean generating capacity.

This whole issue has got me wondering about the infrastructure behind two other big-time cloud services, Amazon.com and Salesforce.com, so I'll be doing some research into this. Meanwhile, thought it relevant to mention a new service provider that is trying to position itself as a "green cloud" option.

That Iceland-based company, called GreenQloud, describes itself at the world's first truly green public compute cloud option. The company's founder and CEO, Eirikur Hrafnsson, says the electricity powering his data center is based entirely on geothermal and hydropower sources. The company, which has used CloudStack from Cloud.com to build out its infrastructure, is piggybacking on Amazon's cloud traction to lure would-be tenants. Hrafnsson says GreenQloud uses a clone of the Amazon APIs, which means that it would be easy to port services build for Amazon over to GreenQloud. In addition, it is seeking companies that need a high-performance computing environment for their services. "This is a cloud that is ideal for use for scientific computing," he says.

GreenQloud isn't even available yet -- it's operating in a limited alpha test and is seeking prospects for a broader beta program this fall. Hrafnsson says the service should have a wider launch in March or April 2011.

Topics: Data Centers, Amazon, Cloud, Google, Salesforce.com

About

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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