Monday, December 6, 2010

The stuff behind the fluff – Is Green IT an exercise in vain?

Cloud computing is generally thought to be efficient, but this study changes it all. According to the recent UK study as published by DW World, cloud computing study reveals higher environmental impact than was previously thought. The quantity of the data centers as well as the consumers would collectively create this problem, which would be further intensified by the use of richer digital media. What this study surprised me was the analysis that it would be casual home users who would lead the excessive usage through rich media sharing/duplication.
In the past, Information Storage and Management used to focus solely on the enterprise specific needs. For handling the binary media format, technologies like CAS(Content Addressing Systems) are already in place. But according to this study, there would be a demand of 3200 Mega Bytes per person per day in just few years time. Given the pace of Internet proliferation and advancement, this is not a vague guess but a worrisome one.
The article pointed out the following courses of actions :
Creation of better/faster computers – This is really not possible as stated due to the lag between demands and Moore's Law
Green data centers – Again, here too the politics play an important role, BRIC nations in particular do have a cavalier attitude towards implementing clean sources.

What was missing here in my option was the point that the research was addressing the solution of the problem rather than its cause. So, instead of addressing the data storage issues, we need to rigorously safeguard against the redundancy in such data. Semantic web is one such approach. Other approaches such as tagging the digital media and having a single copy for identical media (different locations with same signature) could solve this problem. Also, instead of consolidization, the work on distributed computing should also be promoted.
The distributed computing can easily be done using map/reduce algorithms or through application development platforms like Apache Hadoop. The issue of data can be addressed using peer-to-peer data exchange as in bit-torrent. These wouldn't create problems themselves because of the ever decreasing costs of online bandwidth and its performance.

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