Is Cloud Computing Turning into a Resource Waster?

Cloud computing has the potential to significantly advance Green ICT. Cloud computing can be greener than in-house data centers for many small and medium companies. Yet many of the wasteful practices that result in unnecessary resource consumption and toxic emissions in traditional ICT are now finding there way into cloud utilization.

A February 2015 Wall Street Journal article reports that, absent careful monitoring, "...the cloud can be exceptionally wasteful of expensive resources...Some common mistakes include ordering too much computing power, failing to program software shutdowns in off hours, not using monitoring tools to keep tabs on wasted computing cycles, or allowing programmers to believe cycles are free." The article cites some corporate horror stories, but also success stories. The successes are present in terms of financial savings, but there is also likely reduced GHG emissions as well. The cloud can be very brown and cloud facilities can use a lot of water.

Monitoring tools company Cloudyn claims that the ICT industry still has a long way to do top make cloud computing as efficient as it could be. "Currently around 50% of cloud resources go uncategorized or are improperly tagged or allocated." This failure to allocate costs to users is exactly the same problem we see in companies using in-house data centers, where users have no visibility into their electricity utilization and GHG emissions nor incentives to reduce them. (European example)

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