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E-waste controls needed to manage cloud transition

A University of Sydney professor has warned that the move to cloud computing could exacerbate Australia's e-waste problems.

As Australian organisations transition to cloud computing, existing equipment is likely to join the e-waste stream and should be processed properly.

"Much of what is currently being used in data centres - server hardware for example - will simply be stripped of its precious metals and then used as landfill in developing nations," said Albert Zomaya, professor of high performance computing and networking at the University of Sydney.

He suggested a hybrid computing model for small businesses can be beneficial for those firms as well as the large providers.

But Professor Zomaya is also concerned about the energy efficiency of IT equipment.

He urged people in the IT industry to comment on an Australian Department of Industry report [PDF] recommending servers, storage and other data centre equipment sold in Australia and New Zealand be subject to an energy rating scheme similar to fridges and other household goods, before submissions close in July.

That's not to say that he has a negative view of cloud computing. Small businesses benefit from savings on hardware, people and power, while providers gain revenue and operate their facilities closer to capacity, he said.

"Combined usage of public and private infrastructure creates a win-win for both providers and clients," Professor Zomaya observed.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.