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How Green Is the Cloud?

November 8, 2011 No Comments

Think cloud. Now think rain. Now think spring. Now think green.

Now think again.

The term “cloud computing” may create associations of environmental harmony, but just like real clouds, cloud services are unpredictable, difficult to quantify, and prone to sudden bursts of growth and activity. These qualities have researchers and even some advocates questioning how green cloud computing is and how green it can be. The answer seems to depend almost entirely on how we use it.

Cloud computing is efficient in concept. Companies that once had to provide all the infrastructure for their computing and storage needs can now shift the load to service providers. Businesses are beginning to keep documents and email in the cloud and access them with software that they no longer have to own. When all of this work moves into the cloud, it gets consolidated by companies like Google and Microsoft that have spent many years optimizing their data centers to be energy efficient. These massive investments in efficiency will result in data center energy consumption being cut by one-third by 2020, according to the green tech analyst firm Pike Research.

New road, more cars

“What used to sit on a single sever is now being shared at a multi-tenant environment,” explains Reuven Cohen, the founder of Enomaly, a Toronto based company that develops products for cloud service providers.

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