Is the greenest data center in the clouds?

A New Report Reveals that the Most Efficient Data Center May be in the Clouds

The data center has long been the focus of IT departments looking to reduce overall IT operating costs because they consume enormous amounts of energy every year. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the amount of electricity consumed by U.S. data centers doubled between 2000 and 2006 and is expected to double again by 2011. The EPA further estimates that data centers eat up approximately 1.5 percent of all electricity in the United States and that nearly a quarter of that power is wasted. This coincides with results gathered by analyst firm IDC, which states that the un-utilized server capacity in North America equates to more than 20 million servers. Amidst the current shift towards achieving maximum efficiency within the data center, two major IT players have set out to redefine the existence of the on-site data center.

Steve Denegri of Virtual Strategy Magazine recently released a report entitled “Microsoft and Google: Cloud Computing Dominance through Renewable Energy” – revealing that both Microsoft and Google are busy building massive, energy-efficient data centers, and plan to offer cloud computing services to businesses. The services will range from providing small-scale storage space or server power to providing an entire outsourced data center.

Cloud computing applications such as the ones Microsoft and Google will be offering, have the advantages of minimal capital expense, efficient multi-tenancy, and high sustainability. Virtualization and cloud computing represent a technological trend marrying energy savings to cost savings and redundancy, which is good news for businesses. Even energy-efficient data centers owned by individual companies are a “dead end,” says Denegri, compared to the massive efficiencies available from large-scale cloud-computing facilities. Besides the economies of scale offered by a centralized, resource-efficient data center, Denegri notes that these new “mega-sized facilities” enjoy advantages such as long-term property-tax abatements and fixed-cost power-purchase agreements from suppliers of green energy.

These centers are likely to be the beginning of something big. Over the next five years, IDC expects spending on IT cloud services to grow almost threefold, reaching $42 billion by 2012. Denegri notes that this combination of resource-efficient, large-scale operation, energy independence, and killer cloud-computing applications will definitely change the landscape of computing in the months and years to come.

Despite Denegri’s optimism towards the future of cloud computing there remains several concerns that may stymie the wide implementation and use of the technology by businesses. According to Computer Sciences Corp.’s Chief Innovation Officer, Lem Lasher, questions over data security will be a major impediment to enterprise adoption. Lasher recognizes, “There are great possibilities, but there is also great risk. And until security and data issues are satisfactorily resolved, there won’t be full-scale adoption. We’ll see a more hybrid world, in which cloud computing will be used for certain types of applications, but it will be very application-specific and will have to evolve with the concept.” Lasher concludes that “In time, IT can shift its focus and security can evolve, but until wide adoptions of ‘datacenters in the sky’ become a reality, there will continue to be a need for functionally rich, actual, traditional PCs on which people will hold data and perform all sorts of tasks across their businesses.”

Sources:

Steve Denegri. Virtual Strategy Magazine. Microsoft and Google: Cloud Computing Dominance through Renewable Energy.

Leading Edge Forum. CSA. Digital Disruptions: Technology Innovations Powering 21st Century Business

About Melissa Alvares

Melissa was the head of Softchoice’s campaign marketing team, responsible for providing organizations with information on the latest technology trends, insights and solutions from the desktop to the data center.