What is Green Cloud Computing?

Green Cloud Computing

One of the biggest problems in today’s world is global warming and climate change. Global warming and climate change have been the root cause of many natural disasters in 2020. The bushfires that ravaged Australia and the floods that nearly sank Jakarta in early 2020; the breaching of two dams in Michigan due to floodwaters and Cyclone Amphan slamming India and Bangladesh in May 2020; Cyclone Nisarga that hit my home state of Maharashtra in June 2020 and the locust infestations that have caused havoc in South Asia, Middle East, and Africa are just some of the examples how climate change is getting worse every year. 


In this blog post, I am covering the below topics:

  1. How is climate change related to technology?
  2. How does cloud computing play its part in energy consumption?
  3. What is green cloud computing?
  4. Building green data centers
  5. Benefits of Green Cloud Computing beneficial for your business and environment
  6. How does Cloudanix help you to be a part of Green Cloud Computing and reducing your carbon footprint?

How is climate change related to technology?

Let me start by giving you some background. In October 2019, Mark Carney, the Bank of England Governor, warned organizations that they might go bankrupt if they fail to realize their obsolete business models as investors are considering net-zero emission alternatives. Apart from the above reasons, why did he say that? Let me make it brief. We use laptops and PCs in our day to day life. Organizations use their computers and servers every day to keep their business running. Most businesses these days have data centers where a tonne of servers run.

Now, to power on your computers, servers, and other hardware devices, you need energy. Where do we get this energy from? Depending on what country or region you are from, this differs but let me give you a more comprehensive picture. In a report by Our World in Data, the top three energy providers are coal, oil, and natural gas. In short, the majority of our energy comes through the consumption of fossil fuels. Overconsumption of these fossil fuels causes the emission of greenhouse gases, which leads to global warming, which in turn, results in the disasters I spoke about earlier.

As a tech community, we can’t build dams and solar power plants or pass legislation unless we change careers, but what we can do at a community level is to encourage ‘Green IT.’ Green IT means seeking “green technologies,” i.e., technologies that help us reduce energy consumption and our carbon footprint. 

How does cloud computing play its part in energy consumption?

The cloud computing service model on the provider’s end consists of many high-performance computing resources and high-capacity storage devices. Furthermore, every successful cloud service provider needs a high-speed network to connect the end-user and the service provider’s infrastructure. With the boom in cloud computing technologies, many cloud providers are heavily investing in their infrastructure and management systems to get an edge over their competitors. All this rapid rise in high-performing infrastructure has led to high energy consumption, which has become a significant environmental concern. 

Cloud service providers need to adopt measures such that their profit margin is not dramatically reduced due to high energy costs. Experts have indicated how cloud providers can reduce their carbon footprints and do their part for the environment. 

This is where Green cloud computing comes into play.

What is green cloud computing?

The study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers, and associated subsystems like networking and communications systems efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment is green cloud computing.

The green cloud is undoubtedly a superior marketing label in today’s world. Not only does it reduce the carbon footprint of the company and reduce operational costs, but it also serves as an excellent environment-friendly initiative.

The objective of green cloud computing is to reduce the power consumption of the data centers. Power consumption in data centers is so high due to the excessive heat. As circuit speed increases, power consumption grows, which in turn generates a lot of heat. Data centers working with the Cloud computing model have many applications that require on-demand resource provisioning and allocation in response to time-varying workloads that are statically allocated based on peak load characteristics to maintain isolation and provide performance guarantees without paying much attention to energy consumption. An average data center needs as much energy as 25,000 households. And many reports suggest that the estimated energy bill for a data center doubles every five years. 

Building green data centers

Industry experts say data centers consume about 3-5% of the world’s global energy. A green data center is a server facility that uses energy-efficient or green technologies. They do not contain obsolete systems that may increase power consumption. So, what makes a data center green?

  1. Green Friendly Environment: This includes waste recycling at the data center, ensuring the data center is a green building with LED lighting and made of eco-friendly material. 
  2. Reducing data center power usage: This includes removing obsolete servers with new ones and consolidating and virtualizing workloads.
  3. Take care of energy used in cooling: This perhaps uses most of the energy in a data center. This can be achieved by installing outside air economizers that draw air from the natural environment instead of a power source for cooling, which uses much less energy. Optimizing air conditioning by using an alternative cooling source and continuously adjusting the speed to match real-time requirements can also significantly impact power use.  
  4. Investing in renewable energy for the data center: Investing in solar or wind energy to power your data center can be a good start.
  5. Using a service-oriented approach: At Cisco, they use a service-oriented framework for their data center, including consolidation, virtualization, and automation of data center resources to reduce power and space needs.
  6. Reusing waste heat: You must be innovative here. For example, in Switzerland, IBM’s Data Center reuses heat by warming a local swimming pool or providing heat to an entire city like Yandex in Finland!

Benefits of Green Cloud Computing for your business and environment

  1. Energy Conservation: Running a local server is not that easy. Maintaining a constant power supply, ensuring a cooling system is in place to tackle your server’s overheating problem is a task. When these servers reach their end-of-life, you need to dispose of them. You must be wondering, why am I talking about local servers? In 2013, Google conducted a survey which showcased that organizations can reduce their total energy consumption by 87% if they move their basic software programs(email, CRM systems, Spreadsheets) to the cloud. By moving to the green cloud, however, you can pool your resources and reduce the amount of hardware you need, resulting in a reduction of power consumption and a decrease in your energy bill.
  2. Remote Workers: A key benefit of cloud computing is that employees can work from anywhere, anytime, and using any device. This benefit has never been more apparent since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. This flexibility has proven to be productive evermore in this pandemic. Apart from that, how do remote workers help the environment? They do not have to commute to the office, for starters, thereby cutting down the greenhouse gas emissions. Remote workers also help you have a small office space, which reduces associated costs with electricity and reduces your “real-estate carbon footprint.”
  3. Go Paperless: The cloud offers you a secure place to store your documents, presentations, photos, and so on. It also enables you to access them from anywhere and at any time if you are connected to the Internet. Added back-up feature also means that you will not lose your data entirely from your hard disk or server. 

How does Cloudanix help you to be a part of Green Cloud Computing and reducing your carbon footprint?

Auditing your AWS, Google Cloud, Shopify accounts, and so on involves a lot of manual work if you do not use tools. Not only is this manual work tedious and time-consuming, but also increasing your carbon footprint. This manual work starts with documentation, then with checklists and then looking into the best practices, and so on. And this isn’t a one-time thing; it happens monthly. You do this process, check if your resources are configured well and soon. You might fail to realize that this involves a lot of energy- physical and electrical. The margin of error is a different thing altogether. 

Cloudanix does all this auditing work for you. This is effective as well as your one-step towards green cloud computing.

References

  1. https://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/solutions/collateral/enterprise/design-zone-data-centers/networking_solution_at_a_glance0900aecd8062252d.pdf
  2. https://www.ripublication.com/irph/ijict_spl/ijictv4n4spl_15.pdf