Posted by: drmiw | May 7, 2010

Who will vote for green cloud computing?

On a day when British politics was in turmoil one thing made me smile: The Green Party finally gained an MP to represent them in parliament. But what, you may well ask, has that got do with cloud computing? Well, despite the understandable focus of the major parties on the global financial crisis and the record-breaking national debt in this election campaign, some UK citizens were still concerned enough about the potentially more devastating effects of climate change to vote accordingly, and, according to a recent Greenpeace paper, cloud computing is not the green choice for IT services that many of us have claimed.

Now, I would argue that there are environmental benefits to cloud computing – increased resource sharing and a reduced need for business travel, for example – but it is undeniable that the growing energy demands of cloud data centres, which are multiplying rapidly, will contribute significantly to the ICT industry’s carbon dioxide emissions. Some cloud providers are genuinely concerned about this prospect and I expect more ‘green’ cloud services to emerge, but will businesses choose them? Renewable energy can be sourced and data centres can be established in naturally cold locations, but will cloud consumers be willing to pay a bit extra and, perhaps, suffer a bit more network latency for the common good?

Cloud computing offers clear financial benefits to many businesses so any increase in costs will not be popular. Will cloud customers elect for sustainable technology solutions rather than short-term cost savings? Who will vote for green cloud computing?

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