Cloud Begins With Coal.pdf
The Cloud Begins With Coal
Global investment in the infrastructure of the digital economy is already over $5 trillion, and will grow
another $3 trillion within a decade. Global Big Data capital spending is now in the same league as Big
Oil.4 But while Big Oil produces energy, Big Data consumes energy, specifically electricity.
Infrastructure Investment in the Digital Universe
Data Source: IDC Digital Universe 2013
Even as the cost (measured in $ per gigabyte) of IT equipment keeps falling, annual IT enterprise investment keeps climbing.
Information-‐Communications-‐Technologies (ICT) -‐-‐ the Internet, Big Data and the Cloud -‐-‐ use
electricity across every niche of the digital ecosystem, from handheld devices and IT embedded in
machines, to data centers, networks and factories. Since all digital bits are electrons -‐-‐ or optical and
RF photons which are quantum cousins to electrons -‐-‐ astronomical quantities of data eventually add
up to real power in the real world. This reality has been noted by Greenpeace, for example, which has
ranked the coal dependence of major cloud data center companies.
Dependence on Coal for Data Centers
Source: Greenpeace International, How Clean is Your Cloud, April 2012
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