The New York Times: Power, Pollution and the Internet
Barbara Tien stashed this in Efficiency
From the front page of the Sunday NYTimes. The story is about the incongruous waste cloud-based businesses are producing in their quest for reliability over efficiency.
The story has great data, but I think it's illustrative of just how early we are in the technology curve for cloud computing businesses. If you believe in economics, you have to assume that competition simply hasn't yet forced us to squeeze much efficiency out of our power consumption, nor has regulation forced us to curtail pollutants.
Given the high profile of the Times, I think it could have used the opportunity to talk about the likely changes to come from the application of economics. User demands pushed mobile products developers to wring more and more power out of smaller and lighter devices. Much to the surprise of the telecom industry, users were perfectly happy to compromise on quality and reliability for the benefit of mobility (can you say ATT Wireless?).
Market factors will change in time and only then will NOC engineers be challenged with the right problem. Right now the problem they're challenged with is reliability and performance. At some point one of those (I'm betting performance) will so exceed user bandwidth or device performance, that competitors will start to compete on economic efficiency. Regulatory variables that add costs for pollution and reduce costs with power efficiency will kick in and we'll see an improvement.
I think that 50 years from now Google could be an energy company instead of an Internet company.
They're doing significant research and development not just in bringing energy costs down, but also emphasizing the importance of environmental consequences are.
Google can afford to over invest in things like solar power; hopefully others will follow their lead.