Saturday, September 10, 2011

Do major service provides use "too much" electricity?

James Glanz has a provocative story in the New York Times Business Day, Sept. 3, “Google details, and defends its use of electricity”, link (website url) here

The story had a picture of a server farm in Finland (a country on my own shortlist for destinations).  The company has enormous redundancy in its operations, which enable it to keep up its services even when there are local infrastructure disruptions (storms, earthquakes, etc), an important concept in efficient broadband – but here tackled at the content delivery level than the transmission itself.  (We could get into an elaborate discussion of all the OSI layers that they used to teach in telecommunications courses back in the 90s.) Other large providers, like Facebook, have similar redundancies, with emphasis on expansion in areas away from susceptibility to major disasters, and low cost  (maybe like interior North Carolina). 

There were some rather lame rationalizations in the article: it uses less energy to do a search online than go to the library to look things up, like I used to do in the 80s (I remember desperately looking through medical journals at the Texas Health Science in Dallas back then as the AIDS epidemic unfolded; how it has changed.) 

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