Facebook Changes from buyer of Cheap Coal Power to Pushing for Renewable Energy

Wired's Cade Metz has a post on Facebook's frustrated efforts to buy renewable energy for its data centers.

FACEBOOK’S NEW DATA center will run entirely on wind power. This means three of the five massive computing facilities that will drive the company’s worldwide social network in the years to come will run use only renewable energy. But Peter Freed, who helps oversee renewable energy efforts at Facebook, isn’t entirely pleased. Buying clean energy, he says, remains far too difficult.

“It should be easier to get these kinds of things done,” he says, “and we’re seeing an increasing number of companies that want to do them.”

Facebook has come a long way from when it built its first data center in Prineville, Oregon, choosing coal power in Oregon.  Why coal?  Because coal power was more abundant, therefore lower cost than hydropower.  The attention from this event covered by Matt Stansbery and then others helped to make Facebook the target of Greenpeace.

Now Facebook is considered part of the renewable data center leaders - Apple and Google are the other two.

And others play catch up like Amazon.

On Monday, in the wake of Facebook unveiling its latest data center site in Texas, Amazon announced that it will open a 670.000 MWh wind farm in North Carolina. The turbines are set to start turning in December of next year.

Google will expand Georgia data center 808,355 sq ft by end of 2016

Atlanta Business Chronicle reports on the size of Google's data center expansion.  The article proudly says they have an update on the size, but my friends who work on data centers would want to know how much power.

I would guess 600,000 sq ft is white space multiple by 125 watts/sq ft and you get 75MW. That seems about right for a Google project.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) said last month it will invest in a $300 million expansion of its Lithia Springs, Ga., data center. The company, however, did not disclose details about the size of the expansion.
A public filing on July 9 revealed Google’s plans to build a mammoth 808,355-square-foot data center at the site. The expansion will include a four-story data center and auxillary structures.

Microsoft focuses on 3 areas for Mobile, not including the youth

Microsoft announced a change in its focus on Mobile and three market segments.

We plan to narrow our focus to three customer segments where we can make unique contributions and where we can differentiate through the combination of our hardware and software. We’ll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they’ll love.

In the above there is no mention of the youth market.  Teenagers and college students are some of the most intense mobile users and Microsoft isn't targeting those users. What is missing are the apps that the youth market uses.  Microsoft's strategy is enterprise which many will want office.  Given Office apps are on iOS and Android, the value Microsoft is providing is in management, security and productivity.  Management and Security sound like the rallying cry for Blackberry.

The kids of parents who work for Microsoft have been more and more convincing their parents they want an iPhone, not a Windows phone.  Why?  Because the apps.  Microsoft won the battles of DOS and Windows vs. others with availability of apps.  The losers where OSs like CP/M that couldn't compete with the lack of apps.

Microsoft making layoffs in the summer is turning into an annual event.  Microsoft wrote off $7.8bil and the stock didn't budge.

Microsoft Corp. plans to cut as many as 7,800 jobs and write down about $7.6 billion on its Nokia phone-handset unit, wiping out nearly all of the value of a business it acquired just 14 months ago.
— http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-08/microsoft-to-cut-7-800-jobs-as-it-restructures-phone-business

People who want to be the best, find the best to be friends with

The data center industry is a relatively small community. Even though the overall data center market is growing there is a consolidation of power going on.  There are shifts to those who are the best at building out data center infrastructure.

Some stick to a group of people they have worked with for years like being loyal to your alma matter or home team.  They take comfort in the familiar.  This is where the term "old boys club" can be used to describe this behavior.

The Golden State Warriors won the NBA finals and Steve Kerr was the star along with MVP Stephen Curry.  Steve Kerr was seen on his plane flight back to Oakland with two  things that don't fit a SF bay area focus.

The Warriors coach, fresh off his team’s NBA title victory, was photographed on the plane ride from Cleveland home to Oakland wearing a Seattle Seahawks shirt and reading a copy of “Boys in the Boat,” the popular title about the University of Washington’s 1936 Olympic rowing championship.
— http://blog.seattlepi.com/football/2015/06/19/marshawn-lynch-joins-warriors-victory-parade-steve-kerr-sports-seahawks-shirt-reads-boys-in-the-boat/

If Steve Kerr was old school he would have a SF 49ers shirt or SF Giants and a book about UC Berkeley's crew team.


Digging a bit further it appears that Steve Kerr and Pete Carrol have become friends, coaches who want to have the best team.

Looking carefully, though, you can see commonalities — California sensibilities, positive energy, open-mindedness and a constant search to find new ways to motivate varied player personalities.
”I always loved Pete Carroll,” Kerr said recently. “Hated USC (Carroll’s former coaching stop) but loved Pete Carroll. And loved the way his teams played.
”They just won the Super Bowl. They play this fun, entertaining, energetic style. That’s exactly how I want my teams to play.”

Kerr had just been hired by the Warriors and was continuing his hyper-speed learning curve.
— http://www.mercurynews.com/tim-kawakami/ci_27118329/kawakami-warriors-kerr-found-mentor-seahawks-carroll

The ideas continue on how they shared ideas on how to be the best.

“We talked a lot about just kind of the atmosphere around a team and how you’re going to approach the daily routine,” Kerr said.

”To me, the X’s and O’s ... they’re an important part of coaching but a relatively small part. Eighty percent of it is just relationships and atmosphere, what your daily routine and culture is.

”Are players engaged, are they enjoying themselves, are they competing? All those principals he talked about, and we talked about different ideas of ways to make those things come to life. To me, that’s his gift.”

Practical result: Kerr saw how Carroll’s players reacted when the Seahawks played music throughout practice, so he installed speakers at the Warriors site, and there is now music playing through most Warriors sessions.

”It’s a staple for the Seahawks — it’s really uplifting and it’s fun,” said Kerr, who has piped in an array of rap and rock.

”Everybody’s bouncing around and energetic, but you’ve got to focus, too. So there’s different reasons to employ that. But that came from Pete.”

Google's Alabama DC has 198 posts with one post talking to Urs Hölzle and Joe Kava

Google yesterday announced its new Alabama DC and coverage is significant with 198 posts.

Google has been expanding capacity in LATAM, EU, and APAC for years since it has made a land purchase in the US.  When you look at the location of the Jackson County Alabama DC in the middle of the cluster of 5 existing facilities I would place bets that Google could build more at this one site than any other.  How big?  The Alabama site originally had 8 coal fired units.  The last one produced 460MW.  Times 8 that is almost 4GW of power transmission infrastructure and water to cool down the plant.

The official Google post is here.  http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-power-plant-for-internet-our-newest.html

What is not in the Google post are some quotes from Google's Urs Hoelzle and Joe Kava which the NYTimes covered.  http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/google-to-open-new-data-center-in-alabama/

Urs says...

“Data centers are attractive customers” to power suppliers, said Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure. In turn, he said, “bringing in alternative power was important to us.”

“In the next 12 months, we will look at plausible projects,” he said. While wind power appears to be the furthest along in producing energy cheaply, he noted that Google had already done a solar energy project in South Africa.

Joe says

“We are looking to do a similar type of approach as Finland” in Alabama, said Joe Kava, who leads data center construction at Google. Like many Google sites, he said, Alabama will be “a campus model with multiple buildings.”

Google appears to be on something of a construction binge, with data center expansions in the United States, Singapore, and Belgium just over the last few months. This may be partly because of demand, and partly to risk management on Google’s part. By having several construction projects underway, Mr. Kava said, the chances of a shortfall in overall capacity from a slowdown at one project were minimized.

The Alabama site could be the biggest Google data center location until they buy a bigger one.