Does the Color of Hosting Matter?

November 29, 2007 by Nala B.

Experienced web users have noticed that a number of hosting companies grew like a house on fire.  So, different hosters choose different ways to stand out from the crowd. Some of them try to make their services qualitative, some target cheap or budget hosting market, others try to invent new “sorts” of hosting.  Christian hosting, kosher hosting, charity hosting, hosting for pets owners – for many people it sounds ridiculous, but…

Now the time of green hosting has come. According to the green hosters’ sites, green means “environment friendly” hosting. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But let’s pop the hood and discover the ways of “hosting greening”. Basically, green hosting companies use 2 ways to become “green”:

1) Solving power problem of datacenters

It’s evident that data centers need a lot of power because of “double consumption” – to make computers working and to keep hardware cool while in operation.

The “greenest” way to solve this problem is to refuse from “dirty power” by building new datacenters that use solar or wind energy. This is a way of saving resources and reducing carbon emissions. We respect hosters, who are really addicted to doing this. Those companies don’t harm the environment, of course, if they don’t use traditional power for backup or for their offices as well. Anyway, solar and wind datacenters do reduce the greenhouse gases produced by hosting companies.

Still, do you know, how expensive is to build such a datacenter?  What is the efficiency of it?  Solar energy system on the roof of the building will give about 30 times less power than a datacenter located under the roof at the same area needs. Using the modern battery storage technologies one can have more power, but it will still be 3 times less than the datacenter requires. To build, for example, 100,000 square-foot solar power system, a company should have about $10 million. It’s the case, when we do not take office power consumption into account.

All these facts convey the suggestion that it should be rather difficult for small “green” hosters to build such power systems. But talking has always been easier than doing, hasn’t it?

“Building solar datacenter will cost a few million for our company and as a result, it will hit the pockets of our customers. Do you think they are willing to pay more cash deadly just to think they are doing the right thing? When our clients buy web hosting, they are more concerned about service maintenance rather than fiction ideas.” – FastNext’s CEO Serge Riabchuk added.

Some companies also try to reduce the damage effect on the nature by optimizing the datacenters’ work. They install special software, try to use the warmth coming from the hardware to heat their offices, etc. But is this enough to shout about the company “greening” from the rooftops?

2) Buying the carbon credits

“Carbon offset” credits are intended to sponsor emission reduction projects. Such projects should prevent or remove an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.

Well, it is the easiest way to become “green hosting” – buy carbon credits and feel free to continue traditional hosting business. Doesn’t it look like the medieval practice of buying indulgences and keep on sinning? There is only one difference: the one who bought an indulgence never told that he was saint, whereas hosters say about their “right” color time and again.

If somebody really wants to buy carbon credit and sleep better at night he could buy it and help nature without a third party. In this case he can be sure, that his money was indeed spent on the carbon offsetting and not on a new corporate yacht, which is, no doubt, extremely vital for green hosting business.

Having read this article someone might think that we don’t care about nature or don’t want to do anything to save it. Well, it’s not true. We do care. We just don’t want to advertise this. We think that customers should pay for the service quality, but not for its color or any other sham status.

Yes, we try to decrease the carbon emissions from our datacenters using special software. Yes, we try to retrench using conditioners in our offices. Yes, our employees get to the office by public transport. But no, we are not green. We prefer to be transparent.

About the author:

Nala B. works for FastNext

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