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Renewable energy has been the hot topic in the cloud industry lately. Data centres for big players like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google require a lot of power, and I mean a LOT of power. One data centre consumes the equivalent energy of about 25,000 homes per year. Data centres are major sources of energy consumption and there is growing pressure on companies to be more socially responsible and to operate sustainably.

The essence of cloud computing is environmentally friendly; it allows businesses to use and pay for the right amount of IT resources at the right time, rather than the traditional approach where entire servers were purchased upfront for what the company might need, generally leading to 80% of the capacity being unused. While that is the case, AWS, the public cloud leader, has been criticized for not being transparent enough with its commitment to implementing renewable energy sources, especially compared to companies like Apple and Google (which uses renewable energy to power 35% of its operations). Nonetheless, this week AWS announced further investment in wind energy that will help power its data centres starting in late 2016.

Implementing green practices depends on several factors such as location (proximity to a renewable source like wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, biomass), cost (investment required to be powered by this source), as well as the potency of that power to accommodate data centre scalability.

Fortunately, Canada is a world leader in renewable energy and an ideal place for cloud IaaS (infrastructure as a service). cloud.ca’s regional IaaS in housed in Cologix’s Montreal data centres. For our colocation provider, investing in this area makes a lot of sense: “Quebec is an interesting place for a data centre because it’s powered by hydroelectricity, a cost-effective, abundant and renewable resource,” says Cologix’s Chief Operating Officer, Graham Williams.

Recent advances in cloud computing, notably the use of container technology where Docker is capturing hearts and minds, allow workloads to be run at higher densities, more efficiently consuming existing resources before you need to provision more. Run Docker on CoreOS in cloud.ca IaaS and benefit from the ideal combination of resource usage efficiency and renewable energy.