Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Is Cloud Computing Environmentally Friendly?

Today we have a guest post from Sally Rogers:

Cloud computing is rapidly changing the face of business IT. Companies both big and small are increasingly making the move towards cloud virtualization. From greatly simplifying the world of IT support to cutting overheads, having the ability to centralise company IT in a virtual cloud format offers many advantages. By using the cloud, companies are also able to reduce their hardware and software requirements, making it a truly cost-effective IT solution.

However, with the current widespread concern over global warming, companies are trying to reduce their carbon footprints. Because of this, many businesses are asking the question; is cloud computing environmentally friendly? Here are some ways in which moving to the cloud can help make companies that much greener.

Reducing Power Consumption
With the IT industry consuming a large chunk of the world's energy, it is vital that companies take a more eco-friendly approach to computing. One of the main ways in which cloud computing allows companies to reduce their power demands is by decreasing their hardware requirements. When IT systems are virtualized in the cloud, companies only need an internet connection in order to access their resources, meaning there is no need for the likes of in-house servers. Being able to get rid of servers and the cooling equipment they require can dramatically reduce company power consumption. This large-scale virtualization enables companies to retain the same IT functionality with less energy needed.

In-house servers can consume a lot of power.

Efficient Data Centres
On paper, being able to get rid of in-house servers is a great step towards more environmentally friendly computing. However, some may ask whether or not the problem is merely being shifted around instead of being solved. After all, cloud service providers still require a lot of raw computing power in order to provide IT virtualization. This is a completely valid and important question to ask, however, the cloud is a lot greener than it may seem.

Cloud data centres usually endeavour to use the most power-efficient hardware possible in order to minimise their environmental impact. Instead of every company housing their own inefficient hardware, cloud servers consolidate computing resources into effective and efficient data centres. Cloud servers may require more energy than a single company, but cumulatively, the energy consumption is significantly reduced. With cloud service providers striving to use the most eco-friendly hardware available, companies can rest assured that they aren't simply masking the issue of going green.

Cloud service providers try to use the most energy-efficient hardware.

Limiting Resource Redundancy
One of the main problems when companies run their own servers for IT services is idle time. Almost no companies are going to be using 100% of their computing power 100% of the time. In reality, only a fraction of the server's capabilities will be harnessed over a given period, meaning most of the time the server is idle and not being used for anything productive. Companies are still drawing on power even when their servers are idling, meaning that extra energy is simply going to waste.

One of the great things about cloud computing is the flexibility of resource allocation it confers. Companies are only given those extra resources when they are actually needed. By using only what is needed, idle time is minimised along with waste power consumption. Being able to scale resources quickly and efficiently is of great benefit to both companies and the environment.

With the impact that the world of IT has on the environment, companies need to do their part to reduce their carbon footprints. With great efficiency and minimal energy waste, cloud computing offers a viable solution to enable companies to become more eco-friendly. From cleaner hardware to proper resource allocation, cloud computing is making the world of IT a greener one.

By Bradley Houston

Image source: skreuzer and clayirving

Author Bio: Sally Rogers is a writer at Cheeky Munkey IT Company, offering posts on many fields of IT including cloud computing, network security and web hosting services.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Frustration with Leopards and Apple

Time for a sound off rant...

I'm a bit of an Apple fan but have never been one of those Fan Boi's... Or I was...

I then updated my iPad and iPhone to iOS 6 via WiFi and all sorts of issues started in ensue.

You see, I bought my Macbook about 4 years ago, just before Snow Leopard came out and never really saw any reason to upgrade to it. I'd seen that Lion and Mountain Lion came along as time went on, but I could still do everything that I needed, and I didn't see the point in paying for an OS upgrade when what I had worked.

But iOS6 was not compatible with Leopard - or rather, Apple chose to stop supplying upgrades to iTunes for Leopard, meaning that the Phone and Tablet could no longer talk to the Macbook.

This was intensely irritating, so I tried to look into upgrading through Apple. But I couldn't - the only OS they offered was Mountain Lion. Fine I grumbled to myself, but thought that I could look at purchasing that and be done with it.

Only, I couldn't do that either. My Macbook was one model to old to handle Mountain Lion without upgrading the technical specifications, which I wasn't too fussed on doing (remember - this laptop still did everything ELSE I wanted it do - just it now wouldn't communicate with the iPhone or iPad).

From the research I did, it became clear to me that I probably needed to get a copy of Snow Leopard to allow me to get the App store added to the OS. So, off I popped to the Apple Store in West Quay, where I spoke to a few of the hip fellows that they had there.

They didn't have a clue... They had to use Google to find the tech specs for the various operating systems, which I already knew and told them.

They also couldn't sell me a copy of Snow Leopard, or offer any "official" path to buy this through them - I was trying to give them money for their product, and they DIDN'T WANT IT...

I left fuming, due to their incompetency, and my continued inability to communicate with my iOS devices. I wanted to change the music, add new video (ok, real "first world problems", but it was frustrating!), but was unable to do so. The last guy I spoke to in the Apple store told me to try eBay or Amazon to get a copy of Snow Leopard, and that it might work with iOS 6, but that they weren't sure.

Seriously, what are these Apple staff paid for? They don't appear to have "expert knowledge" about their product range, from even the near past - only talking about the lifestyle that their new devices can bring.

I sort of gave up after doing some research on prices etc on eBay and Amazon - Snow Leopard looked like it would cost around £70, but it also seemed that these were not described very well, and lots of people on forums were moaning that they'd bought copies that were not compatible with their devices.

Then, I lucked out whilst staying at a friends - when we were looking at a few things on their MBP, I noticed that he had a Snow Leopard disc sat right there!

I wasn't quite sure if this would be a Windows like affair, with 1 disc tied to a single licence, but no, lo and behold it works!

I'm glad to have a working device back, but I'm fearful of this happening all over again in the next few months. You see, Lion is no longer available as an update, only Mountain Lion, which I can't support.

So, when that happens, I will be faced with a choice. Continue Apple, or perhaps see what all the fuss is about with Windows 8!