Embodiment Living Data Centers, The Future of Data Center Design

Microsoft James Hamilton has a post about Butler Lampson, The Uses of Computers: What's Past is Merely Prologue -- Butler Lampson

Butler Lampson, one of the founding members of Xerox PARC, Turing award winner, and one of the most practical engineering thinkers I know spoke a couple of days ago at the Computing in the 21st Century Conference in Beijing. My rough notes from Butler’s talk follow. Overall Butler argues that “embodiment” is the next big phase of computing after simulation and communications. Butler defines embodiment as computers interacting directly with the physical world. For example, autonomously driven vehicles. Butler argues that this class of applications are only possible now due to the rapidly falling price of computing coupled with systems capabilities driven by Moore’s law.

Embodiment is something I think can also describe where data center design is going, “interacting directly with the physical world.”  Data center design in the past isolated itself from the physical which made it environmentally and financially expensive.  The future of data centers are designed for the site and to reduce its impact on the environment, while reducing its financial costs at the same time.  As Google, Microsoft and many other data center operators focus more on the environmental impact of their data centers, embodiment as a concept works for what they are striving to build.

This is a sustainable future which will have pressures from various areas. One of the top pressures is going to come from ISO 26000.  The ISO 26000 standard should:

  • assist organizations in addressing their social responsibilities while respecting cultural, societal, environmental and legal differences and economic development conditions;
  • provide practical guidance related to operationalizing social responsibility, identifying and engaging with stakeholders, and enhancing credibility of reports and claims made about social responsibility;
  • emphasise performance results and improvement;
  • increase confidence and satisfaction in organizations among their customers and other stakeholders;
  • I’ve written about Skanka’s efforts in Living Data Center, and here is another little know fact. A Skanska employee is co-chair of the ISO 26000 standard along with a Petrobas employee.  Sweden represents the developed countries and Brazil is the developing countries.

    Awareness of how ISO 26000 will change social responsibility ahead of the competition. If you agree with this, you need to think about who can build a Living Data Center, an embodiment data center that interacts directly with the physical world.