Wild weather can’t stop the GreenStar Network

By Jana Makar, Communications Director, Calgary

As a wicked snowstorm blasted much of the province on Wednesday April 28, many of us in Calgary were thankful we were safe inside. While the wind and snow howled past our windows, one of the first installations of the pan-Canadian GreenStar Network was made outside.

Ironically, the installation involved fitting the Cybera-managed node with solar panels. While the sun was nowhere to be found, a section of the 8-panel solar setup was successfully placed on the roof of the Alastair Ross Technology Centre (ARTC) in the University of Calgary's Research Park. Now we're just waiting on the weather to cooperate for the final portion to be installed.

The GreenStar Network Project is an alliance of Canadian IT companies, universities and other international partners to build an Internet network that allows data centres to use renewable green energy sources for power, potentially diverting significant amounts of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere. Researchers involved with the project will measure and monitor the system's GHG emission levels and compare these readings with data gathered from existing information and communications technology (ICT) services. The project, using funding from CANARIE's Green IT Pilot program, aims to demonstrate the viability of using green-powered technology for future data networks.

The Calgary-based node on the ARTC roof is one of two in the GreenStar Network which utilizes solar energy.  In total, there are five nodes spread out across Canada and the remaining three are powered by wind or hydro dams (see map). The nodes themselves are essentially data centres in a box, with fibre optics connecting them to the network infrastructure. Once installation is complete, Cybera will oversee the operation of the Calgary node as part of the network.

The GreenStar Network is a unique project with potential for a global reach. As the network grows, there will be nodes set up in Ireland, Belgium, Spain and throughout the US.

The École de technologie supérieure (ɉTS) de l' €™Université du Québec is the lead organization for the project. Other participants in this project include the Canadian Standards Association's€” Climate Change Services, The Grid Research Centre, University of Calgary, Cybera, RackForce Networks Inc., Prompt Inc., Bastionhost Inc., Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), iDeal Consulting Inc., Communications Research Centre Canada, and Inocybe Technologies Inc.

For more information on this project, please visit www.greenstarnetwork.com. Or if you have questions about the installation of the Calgary node or Cybera's role in the project, please contact us at info@cybera.ca.

GreenStar Network node map