Roel Castelein (Scandinavia) - Does a Scandinavian Swallow Hail the Green IT Spring? Part II

In this second part of an exclusive two-part piece on Green IT in Scandinavia, Roel Castelein looks at the companies making the most of Scandinavia's Green IT revolution. Catch up on part one, which explains what's behind the Green IT boom in Scandinavia.

Google understood the advantages Scandinavia offers, both from Finland's ambient temperature and the old paper mill energy infrastructures. In 2009 they bought the Summo paper mill in Hamina and converted the mill into a datacenter. To cool, Google uses seawater from the Finland Bay - Google uncovered an old sea tunnel that the paper mill used to ship logs, and repurposed it to siphon cold seawater through colorful pipes to cool the hot spinning discs containing its data. The datacenter is however not powered by 100% renewable energy.

And Facebook? They turned to Sweden, planning to complete their new datacenter 60 miles below the Arctic Circle by 2014. The site, in Lulea, is located near hydropower stations that will deliver 120MW of energy to power Facebook's daily buzz. The move reduces redundancy for Europe's Facebook users, making Facebook faster. And it addresses criticism in Greenpeace's ‘How clean is your Cloud?' report that challenged Cloud providers lacking renewable energy to power their sprawling datacenters. Other site selection criteria were total cost of ownership, renewable power and fiber availability, and low natural disaster risk. The locals complained about Facebook not intending to share the heat from the buildings, but that might change. It is, after all, an ancient Arctic custom to share heat, or die.

In Norway, Fjord IT offers infrastructure-as-a-service to Internet Service Providers, Telecommunications Providers and large institutions, at low cost retail pricing. They manage this pricing model by low cost renewable energy, innovative cooling technology and massive scaled virtualized servers. Fjord IT is just one of the Green datacenters that's popping up all over Scandinavia. There are Thor, Greenqloud and Green Earth Data in Iceland, all three offering carbon neutral colocation, data backup and Cloud services. The Lefdal Mine Green datacenter in Norway is funded by the government and located in an abandoned olivine mine. Lefdal signed a Letter of Intent with IBM to exploit the sprawling underground structure as a Green datacenter. Nydro and Koyopa, also both in Norway, seem to be in the early stages of planning, but also intend to provide carbon neutral datacenters.

Green Mountain, again in Norway, rebuilt a former high security NATO ammunition storage site into a datacenter. In addition to low renewable energy prices, Green Mountain offers colocation of datacenters with a high security against natural disasters and attempted attacks. Anybody who watched The Fight Club, where Tyler Durden blows up credit card datacenters to wreak havoc on the world economy, can envision potential customers looking for a maximum-security place to store data. The latency of Green Mountain's datacenter varies from 3 ms (milliseconds) for connections to Oslo to 51.5 ms for connections to New York.

Which brings us to the weak point of Green datacenters in Scandinavia, ‘latency', or the measure of time delay experienced in a system. Microsoft declined investment in Iceland because of latency challenges. When dealing with millions of transactions per second, latency is something to consider carefully. The distance between Norway, Sweden and Finland, and Europe, Russia and China is however smaller. Fiber cable prices are decreasing, and the EC is shoring up policy to make Europe more energy efficient by 2020. This policy will also impact datacenters. For the moment there is only a voluntary European Data Center Code of Conduct based on The Green Grid's PUE metric, but there is likely to be more EC enforcement over the coming years.

One Scandinavian swallow does not make a Green IT spring, but from the round up above we can conclude that Scandinavia is inspiring the world to take 100% clean energy datacenters serious. Rising energy prices, European legislation, better connectivity and increased Green consciousness, will hopefully drive future growth in Green IT. I, for one, am looking forward to the label ‘Powered by Renewable Energy' on all IT applications.

By Roel Castelein, GTM Strategy for EMEA, EMC and Marketing Committee Vice-Chair for The Green Grid


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