Cloud Computing’s Next Big Thing Could Help the Environment

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

What if there were a better way to save energy than all of the obvious ideas — solar power, wind energy, electric cars — one with even bigger effects on the environment? What if that solution were a better way to run the technology that the way we use the internet relies on? Wired reports that Zack Rosen, CEO and co-founder of professional website platform Pantheon, says that that there is. Rosen says that changing the way we use cloud computing, by switching from virtual machines to Linux containers, could have an even bigger impact on the environment than switching to electric cars.

What is a virtual machine?

In simple terms, Wired explains that virtual machines are “those things that let anyone run software on the massive cloud computing services offered up by the likes of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).” A virtual machine is a software-based environment that emulates a computer. Like a physical computer, a virtual machine runs an operating system and programs. A virtual machine is created within another computing environment, called the host, and is often referred to as a guest.

Virtual machines are often created to complete tasks that are different from the tasks run in the host environment. A virtualization layer relays the virtual machine’s requests for CPU, memory, hard disk, network, and other physical resources to the hardware. Virtual machines can be moved and reassigned among host servers to optimize its hardware use. But Pantheon’s Rosen believes that switching from virtual machines to another cloud computing technology — containers — will significantly reduce global energy consumption. So that brings us to another question.