Cloud costing concept showing cloud icon on computer key. Cloud has been quite a news maker in the IT industry with increasing number of leading IT players opting for Cloud computing services. While most industrialists are increasing their profit margin with less manpower and better efficiency, environmentalist are frowning upon the energy consumed by the leading IT players to keep the service up and running.
An in-depth study conducted on energy sourcing and consumption by Greenpeace titled “How Clean is Your Cloud?” showed some alarming results. The study included data centers of some of the largest tech companies and investigated the data center deployments of 14 of the market leaders. Clean Energy Index, an evaluating system has been set by the International Environmental Organization with the main purpose being assessing & comparing energy linked footprints of cloud providers & their data centers.
Greenpeace has observed that there’s limited transparency with regards to electricity consumption by IT companies; this being the case despite the fact that there are various metrics for the purpose of measuring the consumption with the most prominent being PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness). As per Greenpeace, the data that depicts the dirty energy consumed (energy sourced from coal & nuclear power) & companies opting for clean source (renewable sources of energy) are poorly demarcated. Bearing this in mind, Greenpeace hopes that Clean Energy Index provides a clearer picture. The index considers recent investments & current energy supply related to these investments.
The most relevant findings of this index are:
- The 3 largest companies – Apple, Amazon & Microsoft are expanding rapidly but continue to behave irresponsibly towards the source of energy supply. As per reports, they rely heavily on dirty energy to keep their clouds up & running
- The most responsible companies were found to be Yahoo & Google, resorting to using renewable energy in their cloud expansion
- Facebook has also come on board with renewable energy. It has gone a step ahead and constructed a data center in Sweden that can be powered by renewable/ clean energy.
- The location for these data centers is also playing an important factor in the form of energy being consumed. Certain areas have a concentration of data centers around dirty energy sources. Its aggravating the environmental damage for that geography
- One of the first companies to give a detailed report of carbon intensity under the CUE (Carbon Utilization Effectiveness) standards is Akamai. As per Greenpeace, the rest of the companies chose to refrain from commenting about CUE.
- Though most IT companies have pitched cloud as a more “greener” option, they fail to back it up with valid reports supporting this claim.
Despite the picture not being perfect, there are encouraging signs that more & more IT companies are opting for renewable sources of energy, thus playing a positive role in shaping a better future for the earth.