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Why most cloud computing isn’t green

In the first quarter of 2016 Dropbox has about 500 million active users. Meaning, that almost every household in the USA could have a big file cabbed in the sky, which is accessible at any moment of the day on the internet. One big file cabbed with your vacation photo’s, work presentations and word documents or your instructions for your daily game-play on Wow. And active internet users make (often) frequent use of these seemly free cloud computer services. This is without a single other thought. The reason it’s free, accessible almost everywhere, flexible, burn and waterproof and more importantly it won’t clog up your basic PC hard-drive, so you can fill it with other useful purposes. However, do you know as active user where your files are parked? Which types of cloud services there are? And do you know that organisations like Greenpeace are actively protesting for greener cloud option? In this article we answer these questions and define the meaning of ‘storing in the cloud’.

Your can divide the cloud computer system in two main parts: the front end and the back end. The first one is the service that the clients sees, experience and users. Then you have the back end of the system:  these are storage systems, various computers and servers. You have a central server that administers the system, meet client demands and monitoring traffic. They follow protocols and use middleware.

The last mentioned allows that the PC’s are connected to each other. All PC’s aren’t running constantly, because each runs it’s own independent operating system. This process called servers virtualization and it reduces the need for more physical machines.In order to prevent that data centers are breaking down cloud computer systems have at at least twice as much storage than they have clients. Making a back-up to retrieve data that usually isn’t accessible.

In order to understand what cloud computing is we’re going to look what kind of cloud services are being offered at the current market. Because there’s a quite of vagueness about this subject. First I lift the fog about what this cloud entails:you have three kinds of cloud services called: Iaas, Saas and Paas. Keep in mind that some services can cross with one and another.  Starting off you have Saas (Software as a Service). This is a complete application running on someone else’s system. Examples are web-based email from Hotmail,outlook and gmail. But you can also think of web-hosed office applications like Microsoft word and excel. Where emails are being stored and processed through a service in another part of the world.

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Amazon’s Cloud servers in 

Secondly, you have Paas (Platform as a Service). This means you develop applications like an e-commerce website including a shopping cart and payment mechanism. Other examples are developing mobile,tablet applications like Google App Engine ore App Cloud. This developing software is web-based and is provided with their software system and hardware. One of the newer services in the cloud is making documents, presentations, excel-sheet etc. using web-based technology instead of desktop install software. You got to have a internet connection and are stored in the cloud, thus you have more installation PC space.

At last you have Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service) also known as utility computing. This means you buy storage space, thus buying raw computer hardware. For example putting up a website ore making use of Dropbox for your album pictures. What you do is you (pay) for megabytes/gigabytes to have your files on a hosting company services.  When you are searching online for a new phone in a search engine like Google, your words go through hundreds of thousands of clustered chained PC’s. These are digging in their systems for your search results. Google provides a computer cloud service, which is actually being done in Dublin, California or Beijing.

These three main services often offer their services for free. For example search engines are free and have mostly have custom advertisement. Using your data, analyse this and providing services for businesses, like Google Analytics or payment to get you higher int the search list. On the other coin Google optimize their software, keeping them up-to-date. So you still make use of outsourcing them for your need of information. Other cloud services are private or public using the pay-as-you-go model or on a subscription basis. For example Dropbox and Netflix. Currently Amazon Web services is the largest public cloud computer provider since 2006.

Just because you don’t know where your cloud service is provided, doesn’t mean your cloud computing is actually environmentally friendly  It looks like this service uses fewer resources, like servers, cooling systems and is efficiently centralized than each of them individually ran in a inefficient local system. So in theory, cloud computing saves equipment, energy and maintenance costs. You may think it isn’t employer friendly but it’s environmental friendly. However this is a hasty conclusion, because it works differently in practice.

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Cloud services can be accessed with a wide range of communication devices.

The debate of about the energy slurping huge data centers sparked by Greenpeace report in 2011 called: ”How dirty is your data center: a look at the energy choices that power cloud computering.” In this report they ranked cloud computing providers. Concluding that Amazon and Akamai providers are Eco-friendly. Today it’s relatively easy to find out if your data center is powered through green energy or conventional energy if it’s an important factor in the business. However it depends on where the data center and company is located. 

First we have the increasing need for information, data and other online services. In return the cloud data servers need more space and even more electricity in order to adept to their current market. Next you are actually merely transfer your environmental impact elsewhere in the world. You use energy and they use energy in another part of the world providing your needs. It’s efficiently but not necessarily Eco- friendly.

Also, allot of internet served services are encouraging users to use products and spending more time online. All of them are web-hosted based and stored in the cloud. It’s expected that the rise of these cloud data plants aren’t slowing down in the near future. Analysts at Gartner estimates that it will be a 67 billion business by 2020. The current global energy usage is gigawatts (GW), this was in 2007 12GW and 24GW in 2011 according to a study by DatacenterDynamics Intelligence, the Britisch Computer Society and partners.

However their are multiple solutions to reduce the high energy costs of huge data centers, like by using smart load balancing algorithms to spread out data processing between different data centers. Reducing the cloud emissions by over 20 percent, according to researched at Trinity College Dublin and IBM in 2013.

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Using the Cloud means your carbon footprint gets bigger.

With cloud computer services you have drawbacks as advantages. We’re going to look why you should consider or avoid cloud computing. Starting with the pro’s: your equipment software is up-to-date reliable and secure, because you outsource another company for your website hosting or storage, you can take up extra service or take them away and even leave it. Also you don’t have to wait months for the software or PC to arrive. You don’t have to deal with updates, crashes and run anti-virus software. And you will cut down on capital costs, such as electricity, buying and maintaining the complex PC system.  Local PC’s don’t have to run heavy applications.

You can buy a software licence for all your PC’s without installation. You can simply load one application which hosts all the programs which the job acquires. It decreases the costs for hardware and software. Lastly, cloud computing services enables the dependence of location and device as long as you have a connection to a network. And you don’t have to learn allot of code or require a long learned PC skills.

On the other hand your convenience means you buy a dependable permanent service, which might work out more expensive in the long run. And it comes with a requisite you need a high speed broadband internet connection. This isn’t always accessible in developing countries or in rural areas.  Next, these services are restricted to what they after, thus not all businesses benefit from this one cutting service. And if their service is stopped you might not know when. For example Google Docs stopped with their support at one week notice for their customers in September 2012.

If this happens you need to migrate your numbers, data and files to another service and you better hope that this merge with their software. Or you probably have to crunch your data all over again. Another con can be that your companies security and privacy could be compromised if you need to have a reliable security measures in place. The last point is the rise of cloud computer services can mean a loss of jobs in this technology branch. At the back end of the cloud computer business you have a loss of possible IT maintenance personal, because of the future potential usage of automatic computing systems that are self managing.

In conclusion cloud computing is a computer service that makes use of a network like the internet, And it can be called information technology (IT)  outsourcing through a computer service like a search-engine or storing files on Dropbox and many more. We enable our local and information usage making us more in-dependable but not necessarily Eco-friendly.

Sources

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