It’s Not Easy Being Green (But It Should Be)

I parse the word “sustainable” in two ways.

  1. A corporate BS buzzword focused on by companies who don’t want to lose their Millennial/Gen Z workforce, mumbling something about making safe communities and locally resilient supply chains.
  2. An environmentalist term meaning this object or activity can persist in such a way as not to immediately destroy our planet/climate.

A couple of items in the last week made me think about these two definitions. First, Julia White of SAP gave a quick talk at Cloud Wars Expo which included some mentions of sustainability. I am cynically inclined to interpret most corporate folks as acting in the first parsing above – but Julia and her interviewer’s chat actually left me feeling more charitable. Give it a listen.

With regard to the second, I saw news that Google and Oracle suffered data center outages in a recent London heat wave. The cloud computing market sure ain’t gonna get smaller, so cloud providers have to both plan for heat disasters and – more importantly – be good citizens of power usage. A study in Science found that data centers use around 1% of all worldwide electrical power, and a great deal of that power goes into cooling. Climate change should be top of mind for an industry that relies on cooler temperatures and massive amounts of power.

Time will tell whether corporations are truly serious about buzzword-chasing. I hope they are. PM

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