Can Cloud Computing Be Energy Efficient?

During my flight to Japan last week, I spent eight hours reading: Grow a Greener Data Center, by Douglas Alger of Cisco. The rest of the time I spent thinking about a hypothetical discussion about the energy efficiency of cloud computing.

Let’s assume that all the speakers are from local companies—after all this is Silicon Valley and we should be able to supply good speakers without going outside the region.

This is what I would like the panelists to discuss:

  • Can cloud computing, as opposed to DIY/colocation data centers, provide green computing?
  • How do you keep a data center that implements cloud computing energy efficient when cloud computing is offered as a service?

Some casual and informal discussions have concluded that cloud computing is more energy efficient than implementations at your own data centers. That may be so, but the only quantitative example is from NetSuite. I would like to hear what they have to say about it.

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Reducing Costs with Open Network Systems for Internet Infrastructure
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In addition, the user may think that cloud computing is greener than his own data center. But what about a data center that implements cloud computing? Its operators still have to purchase and provision servers and other IT equipment as well as maintain the facilities components. Since no one can predict demand, they may over provision everything (building, hardware, software, and other things) for fear of running out of resources when there is an unexpected surge in demand. Is that still green?

Changing the subject, which local companies are good panelist candidates? The local companies (not the individuals) that can add insightful views on my questions might be:

  • Google (probably top two or three in cloud computing)
  • Rackspace (contender to Amazon in infrastructure-as-a-service provider)
  • GoGrid (smaller but innovative cloud computing service provider)
  • VMware (no explanation necessary)
  • NetSuite (quantitative data)

Those are my first choices, but Cisco, Oracle (combined with Sun), and HP might be interesting. Wait. What about IBM’s Almaden Labs? I heard that they have a cloud lab. If so, the Microsoft research center in Mountain View may have a good speaker on Azure.

What is your opinion?

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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