I recently read an article about data centres moving underground, and the sheer scale and cost of modern data centres. The modern data centres are using the power needs of thousands of households, and taking up tens of thousands of square feet of space. Google is rumoured to have going on a million servers in its data centres around the world. It all reminds me of the drivers that made me think that space-based data centres might be the way forwards in the future. It is a few years on, and I would assert that this is looking more rather than less likely in the future – especially since key enabling technologies would be cheaper space flight and the ability to have long term space stations in orbit.
On a slightly more serious note, however, it seems that data centre technology does need a serious green overhaul. I have heard much about virtualisation being a green technology, and the same for cloud computing. If it needs this sort of data centre infrastructure, with all the energy and environmental issues that will be associated with this, how can this be sold as a “green” technology? The truth seems to be that “green” technology is simply a way of shifting the problem and responsibility for it to someone else. That may not be an issue – if you check as part of the process that their approach “green” approach is sufficient. When these data centres are outsourced and are sited in various third world countries, as they may well be in the future, then it is likely that Corporate Social Responsibility will come into play.