How to keep warm at someone else’s expense

    Data centers usually do not use all the thermal energy that they themselves generate, but there are many ways to use it to the full 100%. For example, in his own house in the middle of winter in some corner of the planet that does not pamper the inhabitants with a mild climate. You can, of course, live right in the data center. But seriously, it’s enough to have a small data center producing the necessary amount of heat at home or in the office.

    Back in 2011, Microsoft Research announcedthat there is a sense and commercial benefit in the idea of ​​using the energy that is produced by computers for space heating and water heating. The consumer receives free heating, and the cloud service provider company may not invest in the construction and maintenance of huge sites. Everybody wins! Because some companies have begun to actively implement this technology in life.

    German company Cloud & Heatoffers a kind of "cloud heaters", which are a metal cabinet with access to the water supply system, which is "packed" with a whole set of hard drives, boards and fans. You buy and install a cabinet that costs the same as a conventional heating system (about $ 15 thousand), connect it to the ventilation system, water supply, electricity (three phases, 400V) and the Internet (at least 50 Mbps). The company pays for the Internet connection and the costs of ensuring the operation of the equipment, and you get as much free heat and hot water as the server inside the cabinet can produce during operation.

    However, Cloud & Heat should not worry about the over-costs that the cloud platform usually associates with. In addition, the company receives a highly branched network, which helps to avoid many problems in the operation of equipment and software. Cloud & Heat guarantees equipment maintenance for 15 years. It may seem that such data storage is not a completely reliable option, but the servers are hidden inside the cabinets, and the data on the disks is encrypted and backed up.

    The French company Qarnot is pursuing a similar idea, but focuses on a separate room heated by a high-performance processor. Q.rad Technologyrepresents an electric radiator with a direct dependence of temperature on the volume of processed data. Once installed in a home, the radiator produces as much heat as Qarnot customers need, and if there is more heat than needed, resources can be redirected to the University of California's BOINC research project . Like Cloud & Heat, Qarnot pays for electricity, considering it a fair deal, because significantly saves on infrastructure.

    Both companies are still in the early stages of project development, although in a commercial sense, Cloud & Heat has gone a little ahead, because We focused on equipping offices, because much more equipment can be placed there. Of course, it will be several years before the technology completely replaces data centers and a conventional heating system, but if all plans are realized, we can only wait for such an innovation to spread throughout the world.

    Despite the fact that the idea of ​​heating due to the operation of the equipment is very attractive, there remain a number of issues that may arise both from the side of the user of the cloud service, and from the side of the one who uses its heat. The main one is data security. Cloud & Heat claims that all their customer data is stored within Germany. However, the problem is that it is impossible to know exactly who your “cloud” is heating. Of course, the data is encrypted and, according to the company, only company personnel have direct access to the equipment. And yet, I would like to know for sure that in case of problems with the Internet connection or electricity at the server location, the data will be saved and redirected to the extensive network of the Internet provider.

    Other questions, for example, how many users the company has, whether there are agreements with other cloud providers to provide additional capacity, if needed, remain open. Therefore, it’s too early to talk about the full launch of the technology, but we hope that this innovation will someday reach us.

    PS May it always be warm in your house ...

    Also popular now: