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Recently I come to a topic that is similar somewhat to Green House Effect, "Green Computing". What does it consult with our IT field? Has it any consult with Cloud Computing ?

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5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Environmentally sustainable computing.

"the study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers, and associated subsystems—such as monitors, printers, storage devices, and networking and communications systems—efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment."

How does it apply to cloud computing?

Well... Since server farms are the hardware infrastructure behind 'cloud computing' it would be better to ask "How does 'green' computing apply to server farms?"

Since server farms are notorious for using massive amounts of electricity to power all of the servers and cooling units, the greatest progress will be made in making server farms require less energy.

Here is an interesting article that illustrates how Energy Star and the EPA assess the current impact and future direction of 'greener' computing in the server space.

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Green Computing is focusing on more environmentally friendly computing. This generally means reducing the amount of energy used/carbon dioxide released per amount of processing

One example would be server virtualisation to use existing physical hardware more effectively.

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Wikipedia: Green Computing.

And, at the cloud computing page,

Sustainability

Although cloud computing is often assumed to be a form of "green computing",
there is as of yet no published study to substantiate this assumption.

Those pages refer to CNET article Cloud computing's green paradox January 7, 2010 6:10 AM PST

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Another example is putting your server farm in the ocean to take advantage of its natural heat-sink, thus altering ocean temperatures and probably screwing even more polar bears.

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That's probably more detrimental to the local wildlife than it is to polar bears, which are suffering mostly from global warming. In the grand scale of things, a few thousand servers, or even a few million servers, will have almost no impact outside of the local ecosystem. Industrial pollution alters ocean temperatures (on a large scale) much more than offshore server farms ever could. This has actually had the disastrous effect of causing a continuous bloom of Nomura's jellyfish, which has devastated the marine ecosystem and fishing industry in the Eastern Pacific. –  Lèse majesté Jun 19 '10 at 5:44
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It's an attempt to greenwash industry by use of feel-good terms with very little common definition, and no accounting.

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+1 thanks for the link. I was wondering when someone would finally formalize a term along those lines. The wiki article is actually a pretty entertaining/interesting read. –  Evan Plaice Jun 19 '10 at 1:27
    
I suspect that's probably true in a lot of cases, but not all. Also, I don't believe "green computing" is something that requires a common definition other than simply approach computing in environmentally sustainable terms. Whatever you can do to minimize your environmental impact can be classified as green computing. Not every organization is going to arrive at the same solution. –  Lèse majesté Jun 19 '10 at 3:58
    
@Lese majeste: "approach computing in environmentally sustainable terms" requires a whole lot than "whatever you can do to minimize your environmental impact." Unless by "whatever you can do," you mean turn your servers off. The notion that simply using less is the same as not using too much is unsupported by the evidence. –  Jon Lasser Jun 20 '10 at 6:10
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