Open Data Center Alliance part 3: Carbon Footprint

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at
By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2011-06-10 Print this article Print

2011-06-10 concept

Sources and energy loss illustration from the ODCA Carbon Footprint usage model.

The ODCA Carbon Footprint usage model frankly recognizes that green is good for the bottom line. And in this sense the Carbon Footprint document is a good starting point for IT managers who want to make greener choices when selecting cloud services. At the end of the day, however, organizations that are serious about reducing carbon release will have to go far beyond the meek guidelines offered by the ODCA.

On the plus side, the Carbon Footprint usage model uses SUoM (Standard Units of Measure) as defined by the ODCA's SUoM document. (SUoM will be the subject of my 6/13 blog post.) The Carbon Footprint publication also does a good job of laying out the variables that will likely affect cloud providers when reporting their carbon impact. During my first read of the Carbon Footprint guide, I thought it sounded pretty good. It is fairly complete in looking at the end-to-end considerations that should be factored into a carbon release calculation. And the document references measurements that data centers are already taking, including PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness).

On the minus side, the Carbon Footprint model is candid in pointing out that the SUoM's don't include the impact incurred when the data center was first built. Nor is hardware decommissioning included when measuring the carbon release. In this sense, the Carbon Footprint takes a "we had to start somewhere" approach.

A second look at the Carbon Footprint usage model left me wishing that the ODCA was more aggressive in pushing efficient operations. While stating that enterprise users shouldn't cook the carbon books by simply shifting carbon responsibility onto a cloud provider, neither does the the Carbon Footprint document embrace the spirit of carbon release measurement: curtailing climate change.

Seen in that light, it's clear that organizations that subscribe to cloud services will need to push cloud data center operators independently to slow carbon releases and widen the meaning of green to include both money and the environment.

Table of Contents for the Series:

1. IT Users Band Together: a brief introduction to the ODCA 2. Virtual Machine Interoperability 3. Carbon Footprint 4. Security Monitoring 5. Security Provider Assurance 6. Regulatory Framework 7. Standard Units of Measure for IaaS 8. Service Catalog 9. I/O Controls |

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