The Cloud Is Green, But Don’t Expect It To Be Easy


UK Government departments plan to cut their carbon by ten percent in a year. The cloud will help, says Peter Judge, but it will take time

This week the new British government has announced that all ministerial departments will cut their carbon emissions by ten percent in one year. The announcement slotted into a package of cuts and once again cemented the connection between carbon and cash.

It’s already been noted that the new government’s strategy will be good for outsourcers, as TechMarketView analyst Georgina O’Toole noted: “On some issues there seems to be broad cross-party agreement – opening the way for increased adoption of open source software, moving towards software-as-a-service where possible, the consolidation and rationalisation of IT infrastructure, and opening up the Government IT market to smaller providers.”

Barriers to the cloud

The announcement of Rackspace’s cloud service in the UK underlines the belief that cloud services are set for serious expansion, with Gartner reportedly predicting that up to 10 percent of companies will own no IT assets at all by 2012. In that situation, we are told, It will be more green and efficient, because cloud providers can aggregate the resources, and provide them form the most efficient facilities, using the most effective energy source, and reducing the waste heat as much as possible.

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However, there’s still some barriers between where we are now, and where we are going to be. For instance, the very fact that Rackspace is having to launch a separate cloud provision in the UK is proof that people do not yet trust the cloudin its fullest form – and I would expec that national boundaries will set limits to fully virtualised business on the cloud for the foreseeable future.

Also, Rackspace’s chairman told me at the launch, that most users actually want to combine dedicated servers with virtualised cloud services, so they have guaranteed reliability and performance. The company is keen to point out that Amazon does not do dedicated servers – only virtualised services.

I also noticed that Amazon has had issues with power loss lately, but I would not extrapolate that to any wider meaning. I also saw the US Government has its own move to the cloud going on, and is using Amazon for some of the services involved.

But how easy is this move to the cloud going to be? I’m going to be chairing a web seminar on moving to the cloud on 25 May, and it looks like my panel and I will be be uncovering just how complicated the move will be.

All CEOs now want to deal with complexity

, and for the IT manager the way to do that is to simplify, but HP pointed out recently in its “Information Gridlock” announcement that simplification is a complex process to get going.

The problem is complexity

It is a very good idea to move applications to the cloud. But large organisations probably have thousands of apps, alllinked together in bizarre and complicated ways.

Yes, you can simplify things by moving some of them to the cloud. But before you do that, you have to understand all the interdependencies of those apps, and start to untangle them.

During that process there will be apps which, instead of the cloud, can be moved to the bin. Evaporating apps is even greener than virtualising them.

However, sorting out one app from another, and ensuring that it can be moved or closed down is going to be a complex matter.

My guess is that the UK’s government departments could actually use the cloud to save more than ten percent of their carbon footprint.

However, I think the time involved would be considerably longer than one year.

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