Chris J Powell

How Green is your Cloud?

Greenpeace recently released a very interesting Whitepaper that looks to how Green the Cloud Computing space is and surprise surprise, they say that it is dirty, messy and wasteful.  Now don’t get me wrong, in concept Greenpeace is a great organization that does many wonderful things for the environment but pealing back the layers…they are not much more then a well funded, politically connected “eco-terrorist group” (look back to July 14, 2011 when Greenpeace activists illegally entered an experimental farm in Australia and destroyed a crop of Genetically Modified wheat).

The report though was an interesting read as it took a very structured approach to the exponential growth of Cloud Computing and the transfer of computing resources from the desktop to what should be a vastly more efficient data center format.  The report also ranks the top vendors on their use of Coal and Nuclear Energy but then also looks at the company Energy Transparency, Infrastructure Siting, Energy Efficiency and Renewables & Advocacy.


I was actually surprised to see the strong showing of Google and Facebook on the Green Index but equally surprised at how weak Apple came up on the list.  Within the computing world, Apple has long been considered a Hippies choice and that Green would be one of the core foundations of its strategy…but according to the folks over at Greenpeace…they share the displeasure with the one bite apple that I always have had…all show and no go!

Also of interest is the quick response from Apple to the New York Times that for the first time actually put some real numbers behind the Tech Giant’s consumption:

In a statement issued in response to the report, Apple disclosed for the first time that the data center would consume about 20 million watts at full capacity – much lower than Greenpeace’s estimate, which is 100 million watts. In territory served by Duke, a million watts is enough to power 750 to 1,000 homes.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, added that the company is building two large projects intended to offset energy use from the grid in North Carolina: an array of solar panels and a set of fuel cells.

So was this report nothing more than a way to extort companies to start to be more transparent with their reporting of energy consumption?  The real question is how green is any product that is produced in China where the vast majority of energy is produced with inefficient coal powered generators?


Well I strongly recommend giving the Whitepaper a read and it will be interesting to see the reaction of the other companies who were given a failing grade.  I think it is important that we all understand that all that data that we consume does not come free and does not come without a penalty but would a failing grade from Greenpeace make me move my next Big Data Project from Amazon to Rackspace…probably not…but then again…I am far from being a computer Hippie.


Chris J Powell

Leave a comment