In the ever-changing world of technology, the scramble to expand “the cloud” is turning IT and cloud computing companies into one of the fastest growing sectors not only economically, but also in terms of energy consumption. According to a study by Verdantix “companies plan to accelerate their adoption of cloud computing from 10 percent to 69 percent of their information technology spend by 2020.” Along with this growth comes a unique opportunity and responsibility as these companies have the ability to direct us all towards a cleaner grid. Currently, many data centers are powered by fossil fuels and use energy 24/7. In 2007, a Gartner report found that, “the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry accounts for approximately 2 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a figure equivalent to aviation.”
But, the cloud isn’t just for large corporations anymore, as the need grows for access anytime, anywhere. Cloud-based services can help small businesses reduce costs and give them access to IT services which were previously only available to large corporations. But they still have a wide variety of choices when it comes to service providers. When choosing the best provider for your great-green small business, some key decision factors to consider are cost and environmental impact. We recently caught up with GreenQloud’s Chief Marketing Officer, Paula Gould to get some deeper insight into one of the few truly green cloud companies.
One great thing about GreenQloud is that they use utility billing, which means that you only pay for exactly what you use. Paula elaborates, “that’s one of the biggest benefits of the public cloud, you’re not over procuring for peak periods. So, instead of buying 800 servers for something you only need 800 servers for once a year, you deliver the extra load into the public cloud for those peak periods. It significantly reduces the infrastructure costs.” This payment structure is extremely cost efficient and GreenQloud prides itself on offering, “high quality, affordable, clean cloud solutions without a green premium.”
Often, smaller businesses don’t have the resources to hire a full time security specialist or have the budget to purchase and maintain special security systems which makes privacy an important factor to consider when choosing a cloud computing provider. Professionals seeking privacy have really flocked to GreenQloud as Paula explains, “privacy related developers, those that were in the outlier spaces of the Internet that really weren’t doing anything wrong, but didn’t want to be spied on. So, Iceland is considered a bastion for data privacy, so we captured that audience as well very early on.”
Even if you’re not ready to jump wholeheartedly into the cloud, GreenQloud at its heart is a software company. Paula elaborates, “the gold mine in the company is the software we built to run a public cloud. That software can be re-applied to a private cloud setting. So, there are some companies that are ready to use the public cloud, and there are others that aren’t, but are experimenting. . .but all of them are looking to green their supply chain. So, what we’re doing is we’re giving them the opportunity to put our software layer on their private infrastructure. . .then it’s a seamless transition, but with our private cloud you can burst into our green public cloud, so it gives companies the opportunity to dance in the right direction.”
The cloud has a unique ability to draw resources to where they are used most efficiently, but it’s important to remember that energy savings does not always translate to reduced emissions and to be truly environmentally sustainable, data centers must draw their power from renewable energy sources. The location of a cloud server determines whether that is even an option. GreenQloud is one of few such providers out there. Located in geothermal rich Iceland, GreenQloud is powered completely by renewable hydro (70%), and geothermal (30%) energy. For companies concerned about emissions, GreenQloud makes it easy to track your footprint, with their handy dashboard that puts your energy usage metrics and co2 information right in front of you along with a billing breakdown of where your costs are. Paula explains, “You can see carbon savings data which is very handy especially for those of us that are very keen on dispelling greenwashing myths. So you can see, ‘oh I’m even saving money in carbon credits because I’m using something that’s actually using renewable energy instead of offsetting dirty data.’” I asked Paula if due to their location latency was an issue for their US customers. She responded that they’ve had no issues or complaints thus far, and let me in on GreenQloud’s current project to open up an availability zone in the Pacific Northwest to better service the Western US.
I was encouraged to learn that GreenQloud has seen recent increased interest by companies concerning their carbon footprint. Paula mentioned, “we’re seeing a kind of uptick in interest and that’s coupled, of course, with the brand awareness that we’ve been advocating for the last three or four years. So, I would say that from the very beginning our lowest hanging fruit were those that were concerned about carbon, they read the Mckinsey report, they read the Gartner report on co2 emissions and they wanted to address that.”
A particularly effective approach for GreenQloud has been their Startup Program in which they work with companies when they are very young and show them how to compute in a greener way and help them understand why it’s so important. Then, by the time the companies reach enterprise level or go for that merger or acquisition they’re already using the green cloud and it’s just an easy choice for them. Paula elaborates,
“we hope that by that point four or five years down the line, it’s something that anything else wouldn’t make sense to them. Why wouldn’t you know how much energy you’re using? Why wouldn’t you know how much carbon you’re contributing to the environment?”
A common problem in the industry is muddled messaging surrounding carbon offsets that companies purchase to make green claims. Paula and I reminisced about carbon offset ATMs that started sprouting up everywhere at the turn of the millenium. Paula laughs, “I was the goody two shoes and every time I flew up to SFO I got off the plane and paid for my offsets. And then I realized that offsets were actually a commodity and in reality the reason that they were started was great, but it has changed so remarkably, that the amount of money that you’re paying in offsets actually never gets back into the actual initiatives that they’re meant to support. So, I was like, ‘Ah I’m such a sucker for marketing!’ I’ve redeemed myself, it’s nice to work for a company that really believes in solving the problem rather than marketing it into oblivion.”
More about GreenQloud
GreenQloud is a cloud solutions company offering Truly Green™ cloud computing virtual servers and data storage (IaaS) powered by renewable energy. GreenQloud services, such as ComputeQloud™ and StorageQloud™ feature an easy-to-use, self-service web console and advanced AWS-compatible API controls for full automation of IT services. With the addition of QStack, the company now offers cloud solutions for the full market, accelerating the market adoption of cleaner cloud technology, by addressing the needs and concerns of companies who have not yet adopted public cloud computing due to regulatory compliance and investment commitments.
GreenQloud was founded in 2010 and is privately funded. The company has been lauded by the industry and media for its sustainability efforts. GreenQloud has won several Icelandic government grants, such as the technology grant from Rannis (The Icelandic Centre for Research). Advania and Verne Global serve as primary data center locations for GreenQloud in Iceland. Digital Fortress™ is the primary data center location for GreenQloud in the US. For more information visit www.greenqloud.com
Image Credit: GreenQloud