Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Environmental Impact of Cloud Computing

Interesting new report titled "Pervasive monitoring of the environmental footprint of network activity" by Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist which examines the environmental impact of computing. According to Wissner-Gross' research, a typical Google search generates about 7g of CO2 compared to boiling a kettle which generates about 15g. If true, the ramifications could be major. The next time your twitter or update your facebook status could be the same as driving to the office.

In a recent blog post I also looked into the concept of "Carbon Friendly Cloud Computing". More recently a new term has emerged to describe a programmatic ability to monitor, manage and control your carbon footprint which has been referred to as Carbon Information Management. So I had a crazy idea, why not combine both the ability to monitor your energy consumption levels (aka green computing), with the ability to manage your carbon levels combined with the ability to manage your cloud infrastructure. We'll I guess I wasn't the only one with this idea.

Wissner-Gross has setup a site at to help you do just this thing. According to the site, CO2stats provides a service that automatically calculates your website's total energy consumption, helps to make it more energy efficient, and then purchases audited renewable energy from wind and solar farms to neutralize its carbon footprint.

Digging a little deeper I found that basically they offer a software suite that automatically monitors your site's energy usage, gives you tips on how to make your site more energy-efficient, and purchases the appropriate amount of audited renewable energy from wind and solar farms. The site goes on to describe the service like hacker proof software used by many websites to secure online payments, CO2Stats software continuously scans your website so that it can monitor your site's energy usage each time someone visits your site. CO2Stats is very smart, and is able to capture a large amount of data about your site's total energy consumption.

CO2Stats claims you can use any web hosting provider you want and says "Green web hosts only make the servers on which your files sit green, and most don't even provide proof of that. CO2Stats is a turnkey solution for making your entire website experience green, from your visitors computers to the servers and the networks that connect them, without needing to switch web hosts".

A very cool concept indeed and worth a look, that is if you care about your cloud's environmental impact.

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