Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Ericsson and Novatium announce ‘PC as a service’ - but is it green?

On Friday, Ericsson and India-based Novatium announced the global launch of PC as a Service. The basic idea is to deliver PC services through the cloud, which includes providing virus protection, software updates, application installation and maintenance. The service, including client hardware, is remotely managed.

The companies believe there are some distinct advantage from cloud-based services. Because the operating system is in the cloud, the end-user device is able to surf the web and access media content more quickly – the PC itself starts up in just five seconds. The service also consumes less energy which means better battery life and puts less load on the telecom network.

"PC as a Service is a first-of-its-kind concept and a natural evolution of telecom and computing. Today, when every transaction is moving to the Internet, we are confident that cloud based computing will transform the way we use computers, tablets and smartphones today," says Daniel Freeman, Head of Multimedia Innovation, Ericsson. "Additionally, PC as a Service offers telecom operators new ways to expand their broadband business. We see it driving mobile broadband penetration in emerging as well as developed markets as it motivates investments in rural as well as urban infrastructure."

Clearly it’s not designed primarily as a green service. It’s a way to offer potentially cheaper, quicker, easy-to-use computer services on a pay-as-you-go basis. It can make PC functionality available in emerging markets where it might not have been otherwise. It’s also an attractive service offering for mobile phone companies looking to increase revenue from their infrastructure.

Nor is there anything really new here – it could be described as remote desktop virtualisation.  
The question is, is it greener?
Well, maybe. It depends on a number of questions:

  • Will the devices accessing the service be any greener than those already in use? If you use an existing device to access the service it may well create more emissions.

  • How efficient will the data centres running the service be? It has the potential to be a lot more efficient in delivering computing capability than a stand-alone PC.

  • How much more load will the service put on telecoms network infrastructure and how will that impact energy use and emissions?

    It’s not an easy equation and certainly too difficult to call at the moment. The PC service could reduce emissions significantly, particularly if the ambitions of GreenTouch to reduce telecom emissions are realised.  A detailed analysis would be interesting, though – perhaps Ericsson will take up the challenge.

    © The Green IT Review

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