The shared website hosting system we've been using for the last few years has been strugging recently. We shouldn't complain too much - using it effectively free for the campaign, as a campaign member donated hosting within an already paid-for account. While this served us well for many years, we upgraded to a new CMS (content management system) software during the recent site refresh. This means it's now much easier to upsite the website.
However, shared hosting just doesn't have enough oomph for the job. This has resulted in a website with performance that's unpredictable and often very slow. Really, the site needed more, and dedicated, capacity - and the way it's done is called "cloud computing". This is essentially a set of internet connected servers which anyone can rent a slice of.
The old setup did have one big advantage - energy efficiency. Because we were sharing a server with thousands of other websites, our share of emissions would have been tiny. But if we moved to standard cloud hosting (like that from Amazon and Rackspace), this would mean an increase in the campaign's carbon emissions. Reserving more computing power means consuming more electricity, because it lies idle much of the time.
That's a problem for us, because internet datacentres and the servers they contain are increasingly using huge amounts of non-renewable power, and are not always transparent about it. Greenpeace states in their recent report "How Clean is your Cloud?" (PDF) that "if the cloud were a country, it would have the fifth largest electricity demand in the world". That was based on numbers from way back in 2007 and the cloud has grown a lot since then. Even if we are a small website in the general scale of things, we don't want to contribute to CO2 emissions from dirty electricity.
This is where GreenQloud comes in. Their location in Iceland means they can utilise abundant, zero-emission, renewable geothermal and hydro power to power cloud servers. Also, maintaining the right air temperature is one of the biggest overhead energy costs for datacentres - racks of servers all humming away generate a lot of heat. Iceland's favourable climate conditions mean that "free cooling" using outside air can be used instead of the aggressive air cooling used by most data centres - much like a shop in a temperate climate can be cooled much of the time by opening the door to a pleasant breeze, instead of running the air con at full blast.
As a result, GreenQloud offer some of the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly hosting in the world, and you can be assured that you're not causing coal to be burnt just by reading this. Techies might want to check out more details of how they provide truly green computing.
Finally, high bandwidth and low latency internet pipes to the UK, where most of our visitors come from, completes the picture by boosting website performance compared to our old, US based hosting. All in all, GreenQloud is a perfect fit for us.
Fortunately, the lovely people at GreenQloud have helped out by donating us lots of dedicated capacity within their state-of-the-art compute cloud in Iceland. As a result of our move to GreenQloud, you should experience a faster, more responsive website. We certainly find it a lot easier doing our site edits and updates now!
Bala Kamallakharan, GreenQloud's CEO said:
"GreenQloud was started to reduce the Carbon emissions caused by the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) industry and also to make the ICT industry more sustainable by using 100% renewable energy to power our Cloud offering. When we were approached by "Close the Door Campaign", we had no hesitation to support their Infrastructure needs. We believe in their values of reducing energy waste and sustainability."
We're delighted to have GreenQloud's support, and to support them in return. It's a great example of how, with creative thinking, it's possible to provide a better experience for everyone while reducing our impact on the environment.