Clean Cloud Is the Future
You don’t have to be an environment activist to support green cloud computing. When thinking about the cloud, we typically have images of a remote place in the sky where people store documents, photos and music, yet the reality is a little different. Data is stored on thousands of remote computer servers located in large-scale industrial facilities called data centers, and these data centers consume tremendous amounts of power, negatively impacting the environment.
So, as demand for cloud services continues to increase, so does the energy consumption of service provider data centers. Greenpeace estimates that if the global cloud computing industry were a country, it would rank sixth globally – right after Russia and before Germany – in terms of power consumption.
Improving energy efficiency is an excellent business strategy that has the potential to benefit both cloud providers and customers, and can lead to significant cost savings for cloud services business. This is why Internet giants such as Facebook and Google have invested in custom-built hardware that minimizes power usage. Sadly, not all providers have the means to follow their exact footsteps. Still, there are some interesting and affordable ways to master the art of cloud computing energy efficiency:
- Re-evaluate cooling requirements in hardware selection
It is not enough for cloud providers to look at the benchmarks for electricity needed to run the IT load. They should also select their hardware by taking into consideration the power needed to keep those devices cool. Another point to consider is whether the equipment allows for data center layout and design choices that can reduce the cooling load.
Iceotope has developed a liquid cooling technology to boost the efficiency of existing equipment in data centers. This liquid eliminates the need for energy-intensive fans or air conditioning units. Most data centers use spinning fans to cool IT, but according to the guys from Iceotope air is actually an incredibly inefficient means of removing heat, while liquids are thousands of times more effective at doing so.
- Recondition storage architecture
According to Jason Pollner, co-CEO of IT Authorities, the same storage-tiering strategy that helps companies create comprehensive data management processes can be equally effective as a way of reducing power consumption for cloud providers.
Basically, if service providers would place archived data on slower, larger drives that use less power (reserving faster devices for mission-critical information that needs to be accessed more quickly) they not only could manage storage budgets more effectively, but they could also save some of the associated energy costs.
- Virtualize the data center
Virtualizing data centers can be the key operational strategy for pretty much every cloud service provider. Basically, virtualization can enable cloud providers to manage where certain instances of applications are run. This allows providers to keep certain servers at a higher capacity of utilization and avoid turning on others until they’re needed to handle the load, thereby maximizing resource usage and in turn improving cloud computing energy efficiency.
As one of the fastest growing sectors, global IT companies and cloud computing companies have a tremendous opportunity and unique responsibility to take greater control of their electricity supply chain, and to manage their energy ecosystem both outside and inside the data center. Thus, by making better energy choices, cloud companies have the opportunity to be a spark in driving utilities and governments toward the development of cleaner electricity generation.
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