Apple’s Green iCloud to be Solar-Powered (with Infographic)

Posted on October 27, 2011


Image Courtesy of W4iPad

Apple took another step toward being a cleaner, greener company. It received a county permit this week for a solar farm to power its iCloud data center in Maiden, North Carolina (source: Charlotte Observer). According to Forrester Research, the cloud computing market will top $241 billion by 2020 compared to $40.7 billion in 2010. So implementing green iCloud services can be a key differentiator among a growing number of cloud computing competitors.

Apple’s move follows others who have raced ahead to provide sustainable solutions in order to retain current clients and win new business. There was a hint of Apple’s intent to use renewable energy during Steve Jobs’ last Worldwide Developers Conference in June. He stated, “This data center is as eco-friendly as a data center can be with modern technology.” According to the company’s website, three Apple sites are 100% powered by renewable energy: Austin, Texas; Sacramento, California; and Cork, Ireland.

Given that US companies host about 40% of the world’s data center servers, many American companies have built or improved green data centers to conserve energy. Here’s a quick snapshot:

Facebook: In April, 2011, Facebook opened its first green data center in Oregon, although the site remains coal-powered. The significance of the launch was that Facebook released the data center design as an open source for others to use via its Open Compute Project. Facebook also announced it will be building three additional green data centers in Sweden, near the Arctic circle, to handle data processing needs of Europe, Middle East and Africa.

GE: In August, 2011, GE opened a LEED Platinum-certified data center in Louisville, Kentucky. Only 6% of all LEED-certified buildings have achived Platinum certification.

Google: Google data centers use only 50% of the energy of most other data centers. Jonathan Koomey, Stanford consulting professor, estimates that global data centers use between 1.1% and 1.5% of electricity each year. Google is only responsible for about 0.01% of global electricity use.

Microsoft: In a recent Computerworld report titled “Top Green IT Organizations,” Microsoft ranked #4 in the Top Green-IT Vendor/Supplier category behind Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard and Accenture. Microsoft has green data center facilities in Quincy, Washington and San Antonio, Texas.

As the following infographic shows, there are two key ways to achieve green cloud computing:

  1. Be Clean: Use renewable energy sources to power data center infrastructure facilities as well as the office buildings in which they are located.
  2. Be Lean: Strive toward ongoing improvements of energy efficiency.

Infographic by Jill Bunting. Apple Adaptation by Ed Valdez.

Which company would you choose for your cloud computing needs?

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© 2011 by Ed Valdez

Trademarks and Logos are properties of their respective companies.

Posted in: Eco Leader