Should Europe build its own cloud factories?
Very interesting post submitted by paul.miller on Thu 2012-04-19 asking if Europe should build its own Cloud technology. It made me think about the question "Should Europe build its own cloud factories?"
My point of view is included below, a translation of the article at La Vanguardia spanish newspaper http://www.jorditorres.org/factorias-de-energia-la-vanguardia-01052011/
What do you think about this?
ENERGY AND INFORMATION FACTORIES
We are gradually moving away from storing information on our personal computers and soon we will have all this information stored in the Cloud. This cloud is shaped by large data processing centers scattered around the world, some of them the size of several football fields.
However, as the Internet doesn’t have borders like countries do, our information may end up being relocated to the other end of the globe to one of the information factories of the 21st century, where costs, such as those for energy, are much lower. Something similar happened in the textile industry where, at the end of the last century, most of the production was moved to countries in northern Africa or Asia.
If we relocate the production and storage of our information abroad, are we ensuring the availability of this information? What if the same happens to us as has happened to the Catalan textile industry, whose factories in Tunisia are not able to deliver goods because of the Arab Revolution which is taking place at the moment?
Information is essential in our society. In order to guarantee the accessibility of the information, we need to store our part of this cloud inside our own territory. However, information factories require many thousands of kilowatts of energy in order to operate, so , if approximately 75% of the global energy system is imported, we can expect that this dependency on energy from other countries will increase if we move such information centers here. The only viable option is to increase production of renewable energy generated in our own country to ensure power for the new information factories.
One possibility is to move these factories to renewable energy parks, so that the parks become not only suppliers of energy, but also suppliers of information. This proposal is energy efficient in several respects, for instance, transferring data via optical fiber from these parks has a minimal cost compared to the losses involved in the transportation of energy, which can reach 10%.
Moreover, despite the fact that new information industries should, for now, have a power supply support (because of the discontinuity of renewable energy), technical solutions exist to ensure good availability of information. For example, relying on weather forecasting, it is possible to move work between different parks, depending on the energy that each park has, in order to complete the assignment. Using biomass is another possible technology that could be used to generate power.
There is no doubt that for future generations, information will form a crucial part of their society. It is therefore necessary, to urgently pull together to protect it. Citizens should be aware of this reliance on information and should support the building of infrastructure that make it possible. But, above all, it takes foresight on the part of government to stimulate the market itself to provide such services and actively promote R + D + i, not only in terms of power generation, but also with regard to ensuring the availability of information, which will soon be as basic as energy.
(Appeared in the La Vanguardia newspaper in section "DEBATE: The Energy Crisis and ICT" http://www.jorditorres.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Factorias_de_Energ... )