Thursday, December 31, 2009

Is Cloud Computing Actually Environmentally Friendly?

As we end 2009 and prepare for the next decade there seems to be a nagging question, a question that I have to say, I frequently answer without any concrete proof. A question that seems to be becoming more important then ever. The question is simple yet profound in its implications as a global citizen, is cloud computing actually environmentally friendly?

First, I will admit, I am among the group of cloud advocates who routinely claim that cloud computing is green, I say this without any proof or evidence to support my statement. I make this claim as part of my broader pitch to use Cloud Computing, I say this as a sales and marketing guy, but not as an advocate. As an advocate I'd like to have some empirical data to support my position. Believe me, I've searched, and I've searched -- although there are piles of forecasts about the potential market for cloud computing, said to be in the billions, little exists to support the green / eco-friendly argument.

On the face of it, a major incentive to move to cloud computing is that it appears to be more environmentally friendly compared to traditional data center operational / deployment models. The general consensus says that reducing the number of hardware components and replacing them with remote cloud computing systems reduces energy costs for running hardware and cooling as well as reduces your carbon foot print while higher DC consolidation / optimization will conserve energy. But a major problem still remains, where is the proof?

The problem is there is no uniform way to measure this supposed efficiency. None of the major cloud companies are providing utilization data, so it is not possible to know just how efficient cloud computing actually is -- other then it sounds & feels more green.
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