"The Information Factories"
by George Gilder
Google is building a new server farm along the Columbia River in a small town in Oregon called The Dalles. This server farm will be the site for Google's new 30-acre campus and it will be the largest and most powerful server farm Google has built to date. This farm has been located in The Dalles because the town is home to a dam with a 1.8 Gigawatt power station and the next generation of servers revolves around the issue of power. In order for Google to operate its servers the limiting factor is access and the cost of energy. Google currently has about two dozen server farms located around the world and in total, these farms house an estimated 450,000 servers. Yes, this is a description of the network of hard wear that makes up Google. For you tech folk, the Google servers are estimated to have a capacity of 200 petabytes of hard disk space and 4 petabytes of RAM. This would be enough to copy everything on the Net dozens of times. To put the energy consumption issue in perspective, last year, the servers of the major internet search engines consumed just shy of 5 gigawatts of energy. 5 gigawatts of energy is enough to power the Las Vegas Metropolitan area operating at full force on the hottest day of the year.
Why is the article relevant to a discussion about cloud computing? Cloud computing is about using the power of remote computers systems and servers to operate rather than using the hardware and data storage of your personal computer. The server farms, like the new Google farm being discussed in this article, represent the infrastructure behind cloud computing. In order to use Gmail, view and upload videos to YouTube, etc., we rely on these server farms. As server farms grow larger to house more and more data (as a result of cloud computing) and energy costs increase, what will happen to cloud computing? Could the cost of energy to run server farms eventually lead to the end of cloud computing? Not if there is an alternative energy source...Not surprisingly, Google's foundation, Google.org is heavily invested in research pertaining to alternative energy sources.