Bah! Someone put coal in my cloud

Bah! Someone put coal in my cloud

Summary: So, I've written several times here about research suggesting that larger data centers and the phenomena of software as a service (SaaS) and cloud computing are somehow greener for the IT industry than the practice of using hundreds of smaller data centers. Not so fast, suggests Greenpeace, in a new report that it is releasing this week in tandem with the Apple iPad launch.

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So, I've written several times here about research suggesting that larger data centers and the phenomena of software as a service (SaaS) and cloud computing are somehow greener for the IT industry than the practice of using hundreds of smaller data centers. Not so fast, suggests Greenpeace, in a new report that it is releasing this week in tandem with the Apple iPad launch.

According to the Greenpeace report, "Make IT Green, Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change," the electricity consumption for cloud computing has the potential to triple to 1,963 billion kilowatt hours by 2020. This is more than half the current electricity consumption for the entire United States. The bigger problem, though, is that many of the data centers currently running cloud applications are fueled by coal-generated electricity. Case in point: Facebook is building a data center in Prineville, Oregon, that will be powered by PacifiCorp, which Greenpeace says uses mostly coal to generate its electricity.

In its report, Greenpeace is calling on the big players here -- companies like Microsoft, IBM, Google, Facebook and Apple (after all, iTunes is an enormous cloud application) -- to start wielding their influence to change where electricity for the cloud is sourced. By the way, if you want to weigh in on the Facebook data center sourcing decision, there is (of course!) a Facebook page where you can do so.

Topics: Hardware, Cloud, Data Centers, Storage

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7 comments
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  • A couple of issues

    The Green Peace reports links coal and nuclear as "dirty energy." There's presently a serious waste issue with nuclear, yes, but the dirty as applied to atmospheric emissions is pretty not true.

    Also, you may have noticed that James Lovelock, (who was quite the darling of the save the earth crowd when Harry Fuller was posting) has said: "renewable energy technology may make good business sense...it is not based on 'good practical engineering.'" http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8594000/8594561.stm

    The real upshot of this report is, get rid of the internet and save the world.
    Bill4
    • thanks

      Great link to a very wise man.
      johncpm
  • Give me a break... freakin tree huggers. Making their own rules up again.

    I agree we should use wind,water,thermal,tidal,sun power, but there is a limit to what each can provide. Until they are 100% reliable, nuclear is the only non-air poluting type of energy out there.

    Ya, we have to deal with the nuclear waste, but its not anywhere near the amount of coal gases and sout that gets dumped.
    Been_Done_Before
  • RE: Bah! Someone put coal in my cloud

    actually the interview segments confirm the reality of "good business" >>and<< "global warming" style erratic behaviours by the planet being human induced.
    since coal puts out more radioactive fallout than nuke itself does, and a real issue as to what perople will do for a living to raise themselves above 15th century living styles, a more/less full speed ahead on alternative energies, green building materials, vehicles, etc. is more than good business sense, it is effective civics, and economic necessity.
    gabriel bear
  • And what is the cost if we DON'T move to these larger data centers?

    Ok, so moving to these larger IT centers has "the potential to triple to 1,963 billion kilowatt hours by 2020."

    And what is the potential impact (not just in electrical consumption, but also increased resources required for the hardware, facilities, and maintenance personal) to NOT move to this model?

    *crickets*
    JPSeabury
  • how is it that

    my old 80386 & 80486 systems have a smaller PSU than any newer system

    yep!

    my 80386 has a 200 watt
    & none of my 80486 systems has anything larger than a 250 watt & most have a 200 watt
    I even had a system that had a 150 watt PSU

    so how are newer systems more efficient?

    I have a P3 dual socket server that runs on a 400 watt PSU
    but my Core2Duo single socket system barely gets by on the 450 watt PSU in it

    my next system will have a 1,000 watt PSU
    so who's foolin' who?

    newer isn't always as energy efficient as they would like you to believe

    I have 20 year old HDDs that require less power to Spin Up, Idle, & Read/Write than the newer ones
    a 20 year old 3?" HDD requires the same amount of power that a modern 2?" laptop HDD requires

    yet they say it still costs more to run that old stuff than the newer,
    but that's only true by One calculation,
    "How much data can I move in one hour,"
    I can move gigabytes on a new system in an hour, but to move that same amount of data on an older system it takes days, which costs more in power,
    but if I'm not pushing the data throughput calculation and strictly counting uptime,
    an 80486, uses at least half the power or less in a 24 hour period of what's required to keep a new system on for the same 24 hour period.

    here's a test
    I can run 4 ? 80486 systems including monitors
    on one power strip plugged into one wall socket

    try that with 4 Core i7 systems,
    and you'll be making a trip or two to the breaker panel or fuse box
    so who's using more power
    Who Am I Really
  • RE: Bah! Someone put coal in my cloud

    if green-peace is really so concerned with power generation sources and their effects on the environment why doesn't green-peace go into the power generation business? then they could make sure large scale industrial power plant are "green"... Why not stop whining and do something about it???
    if they have a problem with how things are going step up and make a difference.
    d_resz