Another polar vortex may or may not be on its way, but winter means heat bills no matter what. Unless, of course, you get your heat for free from a cabinet full of servers that's sitting in your living room. If you live in Germany, it’s possible!
Cloud&Heat is a cloud infrastructure company that has started distributing its servers to people who want to store them in exchange for free heat in their homes or offices. Since servers generate so much excess heat and cloud companies have to spend a lot to cool them, the idea to repurpose the waste heat isn't new. In fact, Qarnot, a French cloud company, is working on a similar program to Cloud&Heat’s. But as Datacenter Dynamics reports, Cloud&Heat is ahead in terms of implementing the idea.
Customers pay to have a Cloud&Heat fire-proof cabinet installed in their homes or offices (the cost is comparable to installing a standard heating system). Then Cloud&Heat pays for the electricity and Internet service the cabinet needs and the owner gets to enjoy free heat and hot water. Plus Cloud&Heat has some clever fixes in place. If the servers do heavy data processing when no one needs the heat, the system stores hot water in a “buffering tank.” And the Cloud&Heat cabinets can also vent outside in the spring and summer.
Security is a concern with these setups, because anyone’s data could be in anyone else’s house at a given time, but Cloud&Heat claims that since all of its data is encrypted and only its employees can open the cabinets that everyone’s information is safe. Still, it's more reassuring to think that your data is stored in a remote server farm than in someone’s house.
If you’ve ever had the fan on your laptop go totally nuts, though, you know that heat from electronics is significant, and it makes sense to do something productive with it.