Why the Cloud needs to be green

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In a few days, Apple is set to announce its new iCloud service, which is likely to explain the 500,000 square foot data center it has been building in Maiden, North Carolina. But still now, many are asking what the cloud is, and why it matters. Keep reading to find out why the cloud and modern data centers need to be green, and the impact energy efficient technology will have on our future.

 

What’s the Cloud?

The cloud is, essentially, online storage and services. Facebook operates in the cloud, Microsoft has their cloud, and Apple will soon reveal its own iCloud. Most of your favorite websites operate in the cloud, and have huge data centers backing up their operations.

For a great infographic from Peer1 featuring all kinds of stats on data centers and how the cloud relates to your favorite websites, click the image below:

data center infographic teaser

The cloud isn’t one place or owned by one company – it’s everywhere and, more importantly, can be accessed anywhere you have an internet connection. This is the main reason why it’s the future of modern technology – because you can keep all of your files and personal data in the cloud, and no matter where you are you can have access to them as if you were on your personal computer at home.

 

The environmental impacts of the Cloud

Storing all of this information and making it accessible 24/7 requires a lot of data centers running all of the time, which in turn consumes an enormous amount of energy. In early April when Facebook announced a new energy efficient server that would make its data centers more energy efficient, it was a big deal. The luxury of having all of your information at your fingertips comes with an environmental cost.

Google is one organization that is completely transparent about the environmental impact of using their services, and also boast some of the most energy efficient data centers in the world. Check out Google’s Efficient Computing page for more information on their environmental achievements.

Why we need a green Cloud

Apple Data Center

In only a few short years it has become blatantly obvious that the Cloud is the future of computing – this theory is likely only going to be solidified after next week and Apple’s iCloud announcement. However, as we begin to place more and more emphasis on data centers running across the country to serve up our data at all times, we must also be developing energy efficient technologies to make the environmental impact of our lifestyle as little as possible.

Just as we expect appliances in our home to be energy efficient, and the smart grid is making us all more conscious of our consumption, we should expect the same from the massive data centers being built to support our online habits. Data centers should make better use of clean energy sources – such as solar panels on their roofs – in order to offset the amount of non-renewable energy required to power them.

If we can start offsetting the energy required to power our mobile internet-enabled lives, we will be on track to a greener future.

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Located in Toronto, Ontario, Ian is the co-founder and managing editor of Greener Ideal. Add Ian to your Circles on Google+ or Follow on Twitter @iapa.