Thursday, 24 January 2013

...from paper to data!

Below is a picture of a paper mill or rather, it's a picture of what was once a paper mill.
In what seems like a strange twist of fate with a healthy dollop of irony, Google acquired Stora Enso’s Summa paper mill in Hamina, Finland, in 2009. The paper mill which used to produce 350,000 tonnes of newsprint and magazine paper, had suffered persistent losses and with a downturn in demand, the  long-term profitability prospects were poor.
Using the pre-existing infrastructure of the mill, Google bought the site to estabish a state of the art data center. The large site sits on the beautiful Baltic Sea and is able to use untreated sea water, piped through a pre-existing tunnel, to cool the servers naturally. This natural cooling, together with large volumes of cheap electricity and green energy sources makes this former paper mill an ideal place to convert into a server farm.
With the paper machines removed, rows upon rows of servers - data is the product now.
Last summer, Google announced Phase II with a further €150 million investment. This will involve the restoration and conversion of an Alvar Aalto-designed machine hall. Interestingly, Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) is the Finish born architect and designer who ranks alongside Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright in the modernist movement, so an important piece of Architectural history is also being preserved.

So what can we make of this? Well one thing it highlights is that just because something appears on the internet, it doesn't mean that there is no cost and no impact on the environment.

Ironically Google have just launched a "Go Paperless" campaign in 2013:
and perhaps unsurprisingly, there's been a bit of an anti Google backlash:

So if you have a client that says "Oh, I'll put it on my website because it saves paper and that's better for the environment" maybe get them to think again and look at these articles.
Posted by Justin Hobson 24.01.2013

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