Cloud Data Centers in Rural Locations — Gobbling Electricity, Throwing Their Weight Around

Very interesting in-depth article in the New York Times today on the sprawling, electricity-hungry data centers spawned by cloud computing.

Internet-based industries have honed a reputation for sleek, clean convenience based on the magic they deliver to screens everywhere. At the heart of every Internet enterprise are data centers, which have become more sprawling and ubiquitous as the amount of stored information explodes, sprouting in community after community.

the gee-whiz factor of such a prominent high-tech neighbor wore off quickly. First, a citizens group initiated a legal challenge over pollution from some of nearly 40 giant diesel generators that Microsoft’s facility — near an elementary school — is allowed to use for backup power.

Then came a showdown late last year between the utility and Microsoft, whose hardball tactics shocked some local officials.

These data centers are apparently not always good neighbors, and of course as they are there to serve our cloud needs we’re all complicity to some degree.