CeBIT 2013: Does Greencloud Redeem the Code_n Awards?

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

The green awards at CeBIT 2013 only had one company that interested Peter Judge

At CeBIT 2013, the annual Code_n innovation awards were handed out for sustainable technology ideas. My colleague Wayne Rash was not impressed with the four US contenders (on a shoftlist of 50), but now the result is out, has the contest redeemed itself?

Well, yes and no. I’ve spoken to one winner with a good and interesting idea – but the rest of the finalists look awfully like rehashes of the kind of thing other people are already doing.

Green cloud finger © Singkham ShutterstockSolar panels everywhere….

Wayne felt that his compatriots were slacking. One had submitted a bike with an electric motor for assistance, and a solar panel to top up the charge a little, while another had a Wi-Fi enabled smart electricity plug.

Alongside a genunitely inventive wave energy generator, there was another contender which hadn’t got beyond the concept of a sort of social network where users can trade sustainability ideas.

“Let’s hope the rest of the list is better,” I thought, and waited to hear of the winners, but when the release arrived, I had very mixed feelings.

The overall winner was very interesting indeed. Greenclouds is a green cloud company but doesn’t own any data centres (unlike the similarly named GreenQloud, which has a carbon neutral data centre.)

Instead, Greenclouds’  big idea is that every data centre is built with plenty of excess capacity. The Amsterdam-based company offers hosters like KPN money to have tat CPU, memory and storage on a shorf-term basis, and hand it back if it is needed. While it has the capacity though, it sells it on to resellers who put virtual machines there for their customers.

There are all sorts of questions about how it works, of course, and the site (and the marketing manager Rob Rijkhoek) wasn’t long on technical details. It does, however, use a cloud service broker of the kind I discussed in a recent BrightTalk webinar. I’ve only had the marketing pitch , but it strikes me as a good enough idea to figure on the list of prizewinners.

I was really not so impressed with the others.

The winner in the “Startup” category was Changers.com, a German company described as a “community of energy minded people”, but it’s actually a rather expensive solar panel and battery combination. For €149, you get a solar panel you can stick on your wall with suction cups and a portable battery you can use to charge your iPhone. The solar panel is a 4W device, and the battery holds a maximum of 2200mAh.

In other words, you get a pretty standard solar backpack set-up…. only it’s more expesive – and doesn’t include the backpack!

Why is changers a “community of energy minded people”? Because it’s got a social network where you can share your experiences and win points for saving energy. Yep, it’s yet another social network. Ho hum.

But how “energy minded” is this community? Well, it seems that Changers itself doesn’t know the difference between energy and power. Right there on its home page, it tell us the solar panel can generate “up to four Watts per hour”. Sheesh!

There are two other winners mentioned in the email. Carzapp is a car share app. There are plenty of those around, though this one  includes a hardware device so you can unlock fellow carzappers’ cars with your phone. And there is Codeatelier, yet another home automation (smart plug) application.

I emjoyed my talk with Rob from Greenclouds, but I’m less than thrilled by what I can see of the other winners.

 The rest of CeBIT was more exciting! Try our quiz!