Greenpeace Report: How Clean Is Your Cloud?

Greenpeace Report: How Clean Is Your Cloud?


The cloud computing world was all abuzz last week when Greenpeace released its report, “How Clean Is Your Cloud?” According to the report, global IT brands like Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are changing how we share pictures, listen to music, watch TV or movies, communicate, and how we work because of the cloud. Due to the scale and growth of investment, the cloud computing community is expected to grow 50 times its current amount by 2020 with an estimated half a trillion dollar in investment by next year which will feed and create the public’s desire for an ever present access to various information from mobile devices, phones, and computers instantaneously.

According to report, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon are expanding rapidly with no adequate concern for electricity sources. These three biggest IT companies run their clouds suing dirty energy. Google and Yahoo, on the other hand, prioritize the use of renewable energy for their cloud expansion. These two companies also play an active role in supporting policies to generate more investment for renewable energy. Facebook, with more than 800 million users all over the world, also has made a commitment to run its platform using renewable energy by constructing its biggest datacenter in Sweden. The said datacenter is run fully by renewable energy.

The report also claims that investments in datacenter in important locations play a significant role in energy demand and the electricity grid’s management. If the expansions on these locations are permitted to continue, these datacenters and the communities around them will find it difficult to move away from dirty energy sources. Greenpeace also notes that aside from Akamai, there is no other company which reports its carbon intensity using the Carbon Utilization Effectiveness Standard.

Although a lot of these IT companies claim that their clouds are “green”, Greenpeace notes that these companies make use of poor metrics to measure environmental performance or actual impact, and the IT entities also lack transparency. Open source sharing and collaboration of best practices in both software and hardware designs help deploy IT designs which are energy efficient as well as accelerate the IT systems’ improvement. The report also claims that the cloud computing community is showing signs of taking a proactive way of ensuring use of available renewable sources of energy for their energy demands and that the community can play a significant role in creating the world’s energy future.

With the continuous growth of cloud computing, it has made important improvements on how the datacenters are operated and designed. The cloud computing companies have significantly reduced power consumption. However, the cost of delivery and energy efficiency of these cloud computing services are also increasing the general consumption of cloud-based products which in turn also increase the need for electricity of these datacenters. IT companies must prioritize use of renewable sources of energy in order to maintain and check safe levels of greenhouse gases global emissions. Dirty sources of energy must be replaced by clean renewable ones.

According to Greenpeace, Yahoo, Salesforce, Akamai, and Google have taken steps to reveal their carbon performance usage related to their clouds. Greenpeace also claims that most IT companies use Power Usage Effectiveness inappropriately as a means of showing their electricity consumption. This is primarily because these IT companies are trying to prevent showing their cost structure, actual performance, or infrastructure scale because their competitors will have an idea about their operations. These IT companies just want to reveal the Power Usage Effectiveness of their datacenters but will not share any data related to their total footprint.

By Florence de Borja

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