Solving the Greenpeace and Facebook common problem #mdfp


Thinking further about the Greenpeace cloud paper  where their emphasis is on the type of electricity production that powers the cloud. In my view they should open up another attack angle that will have a different effect.  They rightfully acknowledge that efficiency gains from technology advancement will reduce energy requirement but I don't think they look at what is possible with a bit of old fashion price/demand theory.

I agree that one prime focus of attack should be the move to sustainable energy and away from coal/gas, however, I would argue that an equally important focus should be on straight forward reduction.  But how do you encourage less use of a free cloud service. 

Every new consumer of cloud applications or new user adds new demands for computing, storage and power, every active existing user also increases demands and all in-active users, have an energy consumption that remains a constant bleed on the system. 

The area where I think there is some thought needed is on ageing data and in-active users.  How can cloud companies could use pricing to remove inactive accounts and moved aged data to dark (zero energy consumption) storage reducing demands, as well as moving to more sustainable energy sources.

This post focuses on consumer, business cloud thinking needs more than a train journey home…..

Case 1.   Users want access to old data - in this case let us assume that data from 1996 is archived off to dark storage.  If the disk has to be powered up, the user has to pay.  This is the application of a very blunt instrument to allow companies to reduce their backlog of digital data.  Rather like going to a library and looking up an old newspaper article on a microfiche.

Case 2. Users want to keep an inactive account. A user signs up for a slideshare or youtube account and eventually they move to vimeo and Scribe instead. If they want to keep the old account, after a period inactivity, they have to pay or the Service Provider can delete/ dark archive.

Case 3.  Users want their entire history always immediately available. So here the crunch.  Many are worried about an old discretion coming back to haunt you. Imagine Facebook continues to deliver the service for free, but free is only the last 12 months of data. If you want to keep older data active on spinning energy consuming disks you pay, or off it goes (access is still possible case 1).  A potential employer now has to pay for access to your old data, putting a little barrier up.

Case 4.  My Digital Footprint data.  Please can I have all my old data back to put on my own server, centralised, and you can delete it – saves you money and gives me control.

To me here is the message – it is possible to slow down on the new build of data centres by allowing service provider to use price to enable them to archive old stuff to a zero-energy platform.

Question : Can someone now dimension and scale this to see if it would produce any net benefit? 

Future post - how much could a cloud services (facebook) charge to keep old data instantly available? Bet it's £3.99 or some other hoax price as a means to reduce cost!