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SOA & WOA: Article

How Green is Google, SOA, SEO? How Green is My IT?

All of that Googling Comes with a Footprint

This article was authored by Chuck Rogers II, who writes on a variety of topics from his home somewhere in America. The article was originally published in NOW Magazine (, which retains all rights.

How Big Is Your Digital Footprint?
The amount of information created and replicated worldwide in 2007 totalled 281 exabytes (an exabyte is a billion gigabytes). How much of that did you create? Now you can find out.

The Personal Digital Footprint Calculator, based on research from IDC and sponsored by EMC, determines the rate at which you create and store digital information. A picture of your all-around digital lifestyle emerges here after you answer a few questions concerning your usage of things such as email, downloads, digital cameras, personal video, and how much video surveillance is in your life.

To see your footprint go here

It Still Takes Power
Incredible decreases in the cost of processing power, storage, and bandwidth can lead us to the notion that personal IT is somehow not really tangible. Yet it is, and it takes a lot of old-fashioned power generation to support.

Recent power issues in the UK, for example, have created problems in keeping data centers up and running. A recent power shortage Manchester forced data center operator UK Grid to create strategies for generating its own power. The company is now considering investing about $9 million USD in combined heat and power plants to support a center the city's Northern Quarter alone.

Meanwhile, Dresdner Kleinwort is moving its data center out of London's Docklands area in an effort to lower electricity costs and improve power reliability. The investment bank will relocate in Watford in addition to another facility in Camberley, supporting the company's entire UK operations. The move reflects actions taken by a number of other large businesses as power reliability and energy costs in London have become challenging.


Amazon's S3 utility storage service now holds more than 10 billion objects, after surpassing the 5 million mark in 2007, up from a mere 800 million in July 2006. S3 offers storage space to serve as the backend for web applications, and is part of a broader suite of utility infrastructure services offered by the giant Internet retailer. Yet Amazon finds itself constrained by demand rather than capacity. Amazon said that more than 290,000 developers have signed up to use Amazon Web Services since its launch in March 2006.

Amusing Ourselves to Death
Can you imagine being a server at a Yahoo data center? You are part of the huge cloud infrastructure, with enormous computing power at your virtual fingertips. And yet, how are the untold masses of users using you? Let's see, the top-five Yahoo searches last year were: Britney Spears, WWE, Paris Hilton, Naruto (a Japanese manga series), and Beyonce. Serverlicious!

Your life wasn't much different if you were a server at a Google data center, with the top five searches being American Idol, YouTube, Britney Spears, the 2007 Cricket World Cup (think India), and Chris Benoit.

So there are slight cultural differences in the user demographics of these powerful search sites. None the less, they were generally searching for the same sort of thing. For sure there are very good academic and business searches happening on a daily basis as well. Yet, not so many. "The Vast Wasteland" of early 1960s TV (in then-FCC Chairman Newt Minnow's memorable phrase) has been joined at the hip by the Interwebtubes.

This leads to the question: is the Worldwide Web as "green" industry as many might think? For example, recent research has shown that an avatar on Second Life and an average real-life Brazilian both use the same amount of electricity. Of course, the avatar is not "alive" 24 hours a day, but it clearly does have a significant effect on the environment.

Worldwide, the electricity demanded by data centers supporting cloud computing requires the resources comparable to 14 power stations, which in turn emit the same amount of carbon dioxide as the entire airline industry.

So it's no wonder that Google built a data center near the Dalles Dam, a hydroelectric power plant in Oregon. Google can buy electricity from the plant at a fifth of California prices, as well as using the cool Columbia River water to run the eight multistory cooling towers designed to handle the heat created from all the important searches we do daily.

All this for pop culture.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.