I think of myself as an eco-conscious person…I recycle, use compact fluorescents in my home, drive an energy efficient car. Heck, I even have a compost pile in my backyard. That’s why I was thrilled to work on Intel’s eco-technology marketing for the past two years, working on how Intel shares with the world all of the cool things we’re doing with our products and business practices to help make computing’s global footprint a bit smaller. In 2008 I was a very popular person at Intel with “green” conferences springing up across the globe and everyone wanting to be tied to green. My favorite green stunt was a bicycle powered HPC cluster…think about the practical applications!
It’s interesting to see what an economic meltdown does to an over-hyped industry topic…while the planet continues to face the same enormous challenges it did a year ago, society has shifted its focus to more immediately pressing concerns. Which brings my focus back to where this whole green thing started, to data centers and the energy they consume. We all know that data centers have grown significantly in the past decade, and that their energy consumption is so great (over 1 1/2 % of the total electricity consumed in the US) that they’ve gotten the attention of the EPA, and data center utility bills are starting to gain attention in executive suites. If you look at this issue the impact to the environment is clear…more electricity consumption equates to more energy use and more carbon emissions. However, cost of this electricity is estimated to scale to equal what companies are paying for server hardware within the next few years, and this fact turns this issue from kermit green to solid black.
I’ve also seen many of our customers coming to limits in their existing datacenters due to hitting constraints on their A/C systems, their power cabling, and the physical space available for more racks of gear. In today’s budget climate, proposing a new multi-million dollar facility project to the boss is a brave proposition. Which leads to a singular solution – if you can’t expand your datacenter footprint at your current efficiency level it’s time to increase your efficiency level for the datacenter footprint you have. Oh, and by the way, you’ll be improving your company’s carbon footprint as well which may not give you the corporate accolades that it would have last year but will still make you feel like an eco-champ without having to build a compost pile.
I plan on sharing some of the coolest trends in datacenter efficiency here in the server room. But I would love to hear from you – is your company measuring the efficiency of its facility? How about your servers? Is this on your radar, and if it is, do you feel prepared to address it?