The large networking and computing power required by companies like Google and Microsoft necessitates large warehouses of fast servers and large amounts of storage. All this computing power requires a lot of energy, especially for keeping them cool. According to Professor Geist, there may be advantages in developing these kinds of server farms in the North because of the naturally cooler environment. Iceland is also able to take advantage of its geothermal energy to offer both cost-effective and environmentally-friendly energy supply.
In reference to a report by Bill St. Arnaud, Chief Research Officer for CANARIE Inc., Canada's advanced internet development organization, Geist notes that "Mr. St. Arnaud has argued that Canada would be in a position to compete, as Iceland is doing, by setting up these large server farms in the North because we have fibre optic cable that can move the content fast, so it does not matter where the sever farms are located. If we set them up in the North, we could use geothermal energy to run the servers. The heat emitted from the hundreds of thousands of servers would be recycled for northern heating purposes. The cost of keeping things cool in the summer would be lower because it is in the North."
For a transcript of the meeting with the senate as well as more information on the subject, visit Michael Geist's blog.
The North serving the South? Law professor discusses potential for server farm development in the North
Tue, Jun 09, 2009
Noted law Professor Michael Geist, from the University of Ottawa included interesting observations about the potential advantages of hosting larger Internet server farms in the North in briefing the Canadian Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications.