A colleague passed me this link recently, http://bit.ly/enBdV5, and I happen to disagree quite strongly with Matthew’s assumptions. In particular, his statement “2) Cloud computing is almost by definition green computing“.
In order to explain myself, one has to look at the companies that Matthew is talking about: Google and Microsoft. Both companies own multitudes of massive data centres – the vast majority of which are populated with identikit servers. This is the important fact: Google and Microsoft ship their servers in by the pod-full and they are almost all identical, because that is how they ensure scaleability and efficiency.
However, if you’re a data centre manager considering your consolidation and virtualisation strategy, I hope you’re also thinking really carefully about your existing estate of applications. Broadly speaking (with thanks to Sun Microsystems/Oracle), applications thrive on three different types of architecture and by closely matching your application to that architecture, you will achieve the greatest performance and therefore the greatest use of resources and efficiency.
The three types are:
- High I/O, data throughput
- CPU Intense
Now, in reality, many applications are a combination of one or more of these types, but most clever developers will allow you to split the app out when you’re installing it thus:
- Database software
- Main Application
- User/Web interface
Now let’s return to the examples of Google and Microsoft – Google’s servers are tuned for search – that’s what they do! Any other type of application may struggle to achieve effective performance and will waste resources. Microsoft’s servers are tuned for their web service offerings: email, Sharepoint, etc…don’t expect a CPU-Intense application to thrive – it will waste resources as well.
Until a cloud provider comes along with an environment that automatically shifts applications to the server architecture best suited to its performance, this will always be the case and the ‘Green’ness of the Public Cloud will lag the Private Cloud accordingly.
I presented last week at the JISC Conference 2011 on Best Practices in Data Centres. One of the conclusions from this event was that the cloud isn’t for everyone. If you already own a data centre then you should be trying to make it run as effectively and efficiently as possible (we’ve proved this can be done even on the ‘Micro’ scale). When you look at new services and applications, then evaluate your cloud options at that point.
For the HE/FE Sector, ja.net will be offering a brokerage service to ensure you de-risk your cloud ventures – it would make sense to consider this as the fallout from getting this move wrong could seriously set-back your IT strategy for the next few years… and maybe your career too!