Green Data in a Culture of Consumption

In spite of the image of environmental friendliness among hi-tech companies, it turns out that many of these companies are high level energy wasters. The New York Times has conducted extensive research into the information industry, and the results are dismal at best. James Glanz at NYT writes,

“Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid,…”[1]

The amount of energy being consumed around the world is stunning: about 30 billion watts of electricity or the output of about 30 nuclear power plants. NYT suggests that “A single data center can take more power than a medium-size town.”

Up until now, no one has taken a close examination of the power being consumer round-the-clock by data centers all across the country. Times are changing. Regulators have started paying attention. What’s driving this mass consumption? Consumer expectations. Companies have created a consumer base that expects access to resources at an time and any place.

Dan Woods over at Forbes offers a substantial challenge to New York Times. Some data centers may indeed be using an inordinate amount of power, but does this mean there is no move toward greener data? Woods thinks NYT is overlooking actual advances that could help reduce the energy footprint across the globe in data. [2]

According to Woods, NYT ignores companies like Power Assure, 1E, and especially VMWare. At Integracon, we partner with VMWare, helping companies implement solutions like increasing server utilization through virtualization. Rethinking how data centers are designed and implemented is essential to improving power efficiency. On smaller, local level this might look like developing a high density zone within a low density data center, then you focus cooling and power via zones to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

There are data centers exploring how green computing might look on a large scale. I have posted an article before about the green supercomputing center in New England. This supercomputing center utilizes zones as well as strategic power sourcing and even strategic construction to maximize outside weather conditions to help reduce power inside.

If your company is planning to open a new data center, move locations or planning for infrastructure upgrade, Integracon can help you consider ways to improve efficiency in a business smart way that works for you.

[1] James Glanz. “Power, Pollution, and the Internet.” New York Times, September 22, 2012.
[2] Dan Woods. “Why The New York Times Story ‘Power, Pollution, And The Internet’ Is A Sloppy Failure.” Forbes, September 23, 2012.