Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Virtual Clouds Could Prevent Data Centers Destroying the Planet

The way data centers devour resources could be dramatically reduced by embracing “community cloud computing.” And Wikipedia may be the perfect test bed.

The popularity of cloud computing is rising faster now than at any time in the past. And it’s no wonder; accessing services and applications through the Internet rather than storing the necessary data on your own computer makes sense now that links are so fast and reliable.

However, cloud computing has some significant drawbacks. Instead of localizing failures as conventional Internet computing does, the cloud makes failures system wide, say Alexandros Marinos at the University of Surrey and Gerard Briscoe at the London School of Economics, both in the U.K.. If the cloud goes down, as happened earlier this year with Gmail and last year with Amazon’s S3 service, entire companies and the industries associated with them can grind to a halt.

So Marinos and Briscoe have come up with an alternative: community clouds in which individuals offer a portion of their computing resources to a virtual cloud. That’s not unlike distributed computing ventures such as SETI@home and Folding@home that use processing cycles on idling personal computers to carry out intensive data analysis.

A virtual cloud would be more demanding but could have substantial benefits. Marinos and Briscoe say that Wikipedia might be an ideal test bed on which to try out the idea. At the moment, Wikipedia depends on substantial donations to keep its servers running and to keep the service free of advertisements. An interesting alternative might be a virtual cloud based on computing resources donated by users around the world.

Marinos and Briscoe point out that a virtual cloud should also be greener than the rapidly expanding data centers that are springing up all over the world. The combined carbon footprint of data centers is expected to exceed that of the world’s airlines by 2020. Even now, these facilities are challenging the capacity of power grids to deliver enough power to keep them going.

That alone may provide the necessary vision and momentum to get an idea like this off the ground.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0907.2485: Community Cloud Computing

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

stock art of market data
stock art of market data

Maximize business value with data-driven strategies

Every organization is now collecting data, but few are truly data driven. Here are five ways data can transform your business.

Cryptocurrency fuels new business opportunities

As adoption of digital assets accelerates, companies are investing in innovative products and services.

Mifiprex pill
Mifiprex pill

Where to get abortion pills and how to use them

New US restrictions could turn abortion into do-it-yourself medicine, but there might be legal risks.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.