Cloud computing has generated millions of column inches hailing its ability to cut costs, provide instant scalability and revolutionise how we use IT.
What hasn’t been covered to anything like the same extent is how we generate the growing amount of electricity that the mushrooming cloud demands.
Greenpeace recently called for cloud providers to power their datacentres using sustainable energy sources and called on the market to bring pressure on them to do so.
“Currently, cloud computing may be accounting for just 2-3% of total electricity used, but it is growing rapidly. Cloud customers should ask suppliers difficult questions such where they are sourcing their energy from and how much percentage of renewable energy they use,” Greenpeace’s head of IT in the UK Andrew Hatton told Computer Weekly.
That call appears to have been heard by IT decision makers and datacentre managers, two thirds of whom put power supply top of their list of priorities when selecting a new datacentre, according to the UK and European Data Centre Barometer.
The annual report, now in its tenth year, was produced by professional services specialist Jones Lang LaSalle.
David Willcocks, director of Jones Lang LaSalle’s datacentre team, said: “The more the datacentre industry understands the challenges of the energy market, the more closely it can align itself to achieving its own objectives.”
One provider that has embraced this philosophy since its inception is Next Generation Data Ltd, which operates a 750,000 sq ft datacentre – the largest in Europe – in Newport, South Wales. Since taking over an unused semi-conductor plant five years ago, NGD set about turning their facility into a beacon of sustainability and energy efficiency.
Conscious that energy demand will rise in step with processing power – Greenpeace predicts that datacentres will annually devour some two billion kilowatt hours of electricity by 2020 – NGD made a commitment to source all its power from renewables alone. Together with innovative approaches to cooling, specifically designed energy management and monitoring systems, NGD’s focus on sustainability has secured it a host of eco-accreditations, including ISO 14001, WEEE and a BREEAM rating of Very Good.
“We believe a whole-hearted commitment to renewable energy is a pre-requisite for any modern data centre striving to be as energy efficient and environmentally-friendly as possible. NGD’s long-standing 100% commitment to renewable energy, combined with our dedicated Energy Management System, continues to enhance our – and our customers’ – green credentials while clearly demonstrating to the outside world that we are actually doing what most other data centres are still only talking about,” said Nick Razey, NGD CEO.
Such commitment to sustainable energy generation and efficient use of power is both an example to the data hosting industry, as well as key feature in attracting responsible organisations who want to exploit the benefits of the cloud without exploiting the environment.