How Clean Is Your Cloud?
By Nana Akua Dabankah Buadooh
Cloud computing has been a hot topic for these past few years and it's bringing its best game in changing the technology world, making life easier and faster. On the other hand, global warming has been an age old environmental topic that has got the world at its mercy. It is a term used to describe the century scale rise in the average temperature of the earth's climate change and its related effects. But the question is, how does these two totally different topics have any relation and how do they affect each other?
Computer expects and environmentalist have questioned if cloud computing is an actual game changer or green washing. Cloud computers have been progressive in its advancement for years now. Another question that is asked is how clean is your cloud? Is the cloud harming the environment in any way?
With a general overview of both arguments, I would say it causes less harm to the environment as expected. From the environmentalist's view, data centres are needed to keep up with the cloud server capacity intake resulting in high energy consumption meaning high level of consumption of fossil fuel which is harmful to the environment.
On the other hand, computer experts argue that there is a resource virtualization that has a single running multiple operating system that run simultaneously. This causes a tremendous reduction in the server footprint meaning the server occupying less space which is beneficial to the ecology thus reduce power consumption.
Also, in relation to cloud computing it is argued that data centres tend to be more energy efficient compared to server room. Many industries and companies now using the cloud infrastructure have resolved to data centres instead of server rooms. This is both beneficial to the companies and to the environment as well. The data centres are designed specifically for supporting large amount of computer hardware.
Despite data centres' contribution to global warming, data centres are still finding ways and means to be energy efficient. They are less build-up of heat due to data centre virtualization. When there is a virtualization of data centres that means less hardware is used resulting in less heat been generated which in turn benefits the environment.
In addition to the data centre virtualization, there is a reduction in the carbon dioxide footprint like preferably using free cooling thus the natural air to cool data centres to using air conditioned devices to cool, energy monitoring software and power saving standby modes.
Even though users of cloud computing are trying to reduce its effect on the environment, there is still negative effects from the use of cloud to the environment. It is reported that the IT responsible for as much greenhouse gas generation as aviation industry with some server farms consuming the energy equivalent of 180000 homes. There is an old saying that a man cannot serve two masters but I think Cloud computing is defying that adage by serving two masters thus harming the environment and saving the environment at the same time.
High end organizations like Google and Yahoo are also trying their best to promote greener data centres by reducing energy consumptions at its data centres by increasing its use of renewable energy.
Small companies and individuals can also do their possible best to help save the environment by using the cloud server to store information for easy access than printing sheets of papers every day. This will go a long way to help the environment.
From my perspective, my cloud is fairly clean. The cloud users are finding ways to make it more beneficial to the environment. It will take time for every cloud user to be on board but as long as the process is on-going and significant contributions are being made, my cloud is fairly clean.
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