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When Will Google Move to Iceland? By @WayneLam888 | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Unconventional moves to Iceland makes sense when one considers data centers are essentially information factories

As the Internet continues its rapid expansion, is it high time to move the world's data centers to Iceland? A place that can offer 100% renewable energy at a fixed, long-term power cost.

At first glance it may seem an unusual proposition and difficult to imagine a Silicon Valley icon like Google moving/consolidating all their data centers to such a remote area. But it's a move that may make the most strategic sense. In many ways, Iceland makes for an ideal location for the data centers of the future.

The first compelling argument is Iceland's year-round cooler climate, which easily accommodates and dissipates the extreme heat generated by thousands of running servers. No need to run air-cooling systems at full blast during summer.

The second and most compelling reason is Iceland's abundant supply of cheap, 100% renewable energy. Renewable power sources derived from hydroelectric and geothermal sources allow Iceland to offer companies long-term agreements at 20-year terms. They can afford to offer these terms because their cost of power is a fixed cost. Who can resist? With these agreements, businesses are free from the boom-bust commodity market price fluctuations of oil and gas.

Additionally, Iceland features competitive labor costs, low amounts of seismic activity, and, being situated between major markets New York City and London, a strategic location. Capitalizing on these advantages, BMW Group moved its high-performance computing applications to an Iceland facility and cut electricity costs by 80%.

From Terabytes to Petabytes to Exabytes
As the Internet continues its rapid expansion, it's becoming clear that companies need to take these savings seriously and consider moves that may seem, at first, unusual. It's estimated that somewhere between one to two percent of the world's energy is consumed by data centers today -- a small number until one considers that only 32% of the world's population is online. That figure will go up, if Facebook and Google plans to wire the entire world via 60,000-foot flying drones, lasers and satellites, helium balloons and free third-world data plans are an early indication.

As devices get smaller and cheaper, it's becoming clear the remaining two-thirds of the world's population will come online via mobile devices. In just five years, mobile traffic has gone from one percent of Internet traffic to ten percent. To put this in perspective, in the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple sold more iPhones than babies were born.

With devices becoming smaller and more people coming online every day, vast amounts of data are being created -- approximately 2.5 million terabytes every day. IBM recently reported that 90% of the data that exists today was generated in the last two years.

This presents a changing power dynamic. Energy needs are shifting from powering individual devices to powering the cloud. A 10-watt tablet requires less energy than a 100-watt desktop, a good thing in terms of demand on the Earth's resources, but the amount of data generated is increasing. So while devices are getting smaller, data centers are getting bigger.

Location, Location, Location
Unconventional moves to Iceland makes sense when one considers data centers are essentially information factories. Historically they have been built around existing networks, specifically along the original phones lines in densely populated regions. But with their high power demands and particular waste handling requirements, densely populated areas are not an ideal place for a factory.

This challenge of meeting data centers' increasing energy demands are a great opportunity. It is an opportunity to move data centers to where it makes good long-term sense and tying them to renewable, sustainable sources of power. So moving to Iceland with its vast reserves of low-cost and sustainable hydroelectric and geothermal energy resources might in fact be the most logical and profitable move data center campuses can make.

More Stories By Wayne Lam

Wayne Lam is CEO of Cirrus Data, a provider of software that migrates data to the cloud and manages storage area networks (SANs). With more than 25 years of experience in the enterprise storage industry, he co-founded FalconStor Software and founded several other tech companies.

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