Greenpeace wants to know: How clean is your cloud?

by Robert T
Within the past decade or so, people have been more socially aware about the impact technology and industrial growth has, and will have, on the well being of our planet. It seems that with almost every technological innovation that has been released has seen its share of criticism from several “go-green” activists. With cloud computing having garnered so much public attention and media attention, activists have now set their eyes on their next target.

On Thursday, April 19th, Greenpeace activists rappelled from a building nearby Amazon and Microsoft’s offices to hang up a sign which read, ” Amazon, Microsoft: How clean is your cloud.” Gary Cook, IT analyst for Greenpeace told Wired Enterprises’s Caleb Garling that, “If we want to get to a renewable energy economy, we can’t get there without leadership from these companies.” But according to Amazon, their goal to provide a reliable data center for companies and consumers go hand in hand with staying environmentally friendly. “Instead of each company having their own datacenter that serves just them, Amazon Web Services makes it possible for hundreds of thousands of companies to consolidate their datacenter use into a handful of datacenters in the AWS Cloud, resulting in much higher utilization rates and eliminating the waste that occurs when datacenters don’t operate near their capacity,” Amazon spokesperson Tera Randall tells Wired. But this just doesn’t seem to cut it for Greenpeace. Greenpeace has said that an operating cloud data center will use as much energy as 180,000 homes. Whether the figures are correct or not, staying environmentally friendly should always be considered. Be that as it may, according to Wired contributor Caleb Garling, the recent attack has nothing to do with the companies carbon footprint. Greenpeace recent protests are aimed at the companies future energy investments.

I thought this was good article because, yes, it’s important to realize what sort of impact we are putting our planet through but at the same time I think Greenpeace may be protesting something they do not fully understand. Greenpeace has had a problem with companies using coal as a means for running their day – to – day operations. Sure we could use some other method like solar or wind power, but would that even be enough to run the large data center that cloud providers are trying to provide? It really comes down to the average every day consumer. It’s one thing to preach to a company about the environment and another to inform the public about where their electricity or how their lifestyle may or may not be causing problems for the environment.

“Greenpeace Drops Cloud Protest on Amazon, Microsoft.” 2012. Wired, Caleb Garling. Retrieved April 22, 2012. http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/04/greenpeace-amazon-microsoft/

“GreenPeace has a point.” 2012. ZDNet, Martin LaMonica. Retrieved April 22, 2012. http://www.zdnet.com.au/greenpeace-has-a-point-on-cloud-339336430.htm

1 thought on “Greenpeace wants to know: How clean is your cloud?”

  1. I can definitely see why cloud computing is in such a focus for the need to cut energy use and utilize renewable resources, simply because they are up and running almost nonstop, practically 24/7. That can easily rack up a hefty energy bill, not to mention how much that translates to environment damage through the electric use.

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