The Cost of Ephemera
The Cost of Ephemera
  • Matthew Weigand
  • 승인 2009.02.26 10:52
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Racks of servers in a climate-controlled environment which is well-lighted and running the latest in electronic security systems
CeBIT has broken tradition this year with two themes rather than one. Webciety, the first theme, is about all the things that we have come to associate with the Internet, while Green IT is about designing IT to be more efficient. The two have some superficial ties in the fact that they are more related to computing, but the ties go deeper than that. The Webciety has caused a need for Green IT, with a connection that many people don't really see.

Webciety, the way we use the Internet now, is essential. There is no way to get around it - the Internet is a part of almost everything we do. From contacting old friends to buying the latest gadgets, and from meeting new business associates to making a lot of money, the Internet has opened up many new doors for us. Additionally, the way that all these services are presented to the user is with colorful, ephemeral web pages that anyone can access for the price of Internet access, which is very affordable. This kind of presentation masks the immense cost in actually setting up, developing, and maintaining such convenient services.

But the costs are, indeed, immense. Despite the feeling that the Internet is a mystical realm of pure thought, in the end it is still a lot of hardware. So much hardware is involved that one begins to want to speak of it biblically. And lo, Amazon said, let us build a datacenter in Oregon, for our storage space in the S3 cloud is already bursting to overflowing with 29 billion objects. And verily, Oregon is a land flowing with cheap, clean, renewable energy from its many hydroelectric power stations from dams along its many abundant rivers. Let our center of data be on a plot of land of 174 million square cubits (9,000 acres). Let the first building to go up be 51 thousand square cubits (116,000 square feet), and let two other buildings be created beside it. And, let a power substation capable of supporting 10 megawatts be built adjacent to the building, for our computers are hungry and their demand for power is unceasing.

In fact, in a study done in 2007 by Dr. Jonathan Koomey at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he found that the electricity consumption by all servers, cooling systems and auxiliary structures related to the servers in the US was about 1.2% of total power available. The total electricity bill for that much power was approximately US$2.7 billion. This put servers on par with all color televisions in the US for the amount of power used. Additionally, a study done by the California government has predicted that in 20 years, 50% of power used will be for computers and computer equipment.

So the development of this fascinating and engaging Webciety that is a part of every aspect of our lives is costing a large chunk of change in energy consumption. Although it looks effortless to use the latest version of Facebook or buy something from eBay, the power consumed alone is enough to give one pause to think heavy thoughts.

If this trend in creating a Webciety continues - and there is no reason to believe that it won't continue and become even more pervasive - then its power consumption will only grow. And, as the power consumed by our IT devices grows, the need to create more power-efficient, environmentally-friendly computing devices can only also grow. Webciety and Green IT are linked together forever, inextricably.

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