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    Two Different Views of Greening a Data Center

    At Google’s Efficient Data Center Summit, there was a panel discussion on Best Practices. Panel members left to right: Ken Brill, James Hamilton, William Tschudi, and Olivier Sanche.


    One of the questions for the panel members was on subject of green and sustainability.

    Ken Brill gave a practical view of show me the money. Green is overhyped and a clear ROI needs to be established for projects.

    Olivier Sanche starts by telling the story of his child telling him how the polar bears are drowning, then he thinks he is potentially building a data center that will have a bigger impact to global warming than any other action he has as an individual.  Olivier tells his team we need to do the right thing, and how we impact the environment is part of the equation.

    There were people in the audience nodding their heads as each of the panel members gave their comments, so is there a right answer?  It depends on your view.

    One indicator though of what resonated with more people was the number of times Olivier’s views were supported by other presenters during the rest of the event.

    It is interesting that in some views it is risk taking to do the right thing for the environment when the financials may not be perfectly clear. Taking small steps to experiment with what does work and how well is a way to manage the risk versus saying no to green efforts.

    Is building a Green Data Center a risk or the right thing to do?

    Microsoft has their green data center press release.

    Google had a their Efficient Data Center event.

    eBay has Olivier Sanche speaking up to do the right thing.

    Click to read more ...


    Changing the Behavior of the Data Center System, Modular Construction

    At Google’s data center event, I introduced Amazon’s James Hamilton to Skanska’s Jakob Carnemark as I knew these guys would have an interesting conversation discussing data center construction.

    One of the ideas where we all connected was modular data center construction. Question, if I picked the right modular infrastructure deployment does it change the behavior of the data center system?  A typical data center construction will project out 5 – 10 years to specify the required capacity, then take 2 – 3 years to design and build.  But, in data centers who can forecast out 5 – 10 years, let alone 1 year accurately?

    Too many people build data centers like fortresses.

    Building a Stone Fortress

    Text copyright © by Lise Hull
    Photographs Copyright © by Jeffrey L. Thomas

    Above: the West Gatehouse at Rhuddlan Castle

    Even today, centuries after they were active in British history, castles demonstrate the majesty, power and wealth of their noble builders. By the end of the 12th century, stone castles became more elaborate, the obsession of several powerful personalities who felt pressure to prove their own value by constructing these towering piles. While Edward I used the stone fortress as an effective means of dominating a rebellious Welsh populace, and gave us several of the most impressive structures in the world, his fortresses also reinforced his status as a wealthy and privileged ruler. The Angevin kings, Henry II, Richard I, John and Henry III, collectively spent tens of thousands of pounds on their castles, in pursuit of reputations as men of incomparable authority, prosperity and quality. It is incredible that the monarchy could afford such building projects, for the financial coffers were limited; the kings were not individuals of unbounded wealth, as they wanted their subjects to believe.

    And many data centers have the same human behavior from building fortresses. And, I use the fortress analogy in how a paranoid defense focus can drive issues to protect a person’s territory.

    the obsession of several powerful personalities who felt pressure to prove their own value by constructing these towering piles

    What happens if you sacrifice the fortress mindset for a modular data center build strategy?

    Building capacity in 6 months in smaller power increments.

    One good behavior change is application developers and enterprise architects will see a CapEx bill attached to major projects as data center capacity is increased to meet their needs.

    It is easy to join in the group think to build the fortress to protect your IT silo.  And, someone else pays the bill.

    Could you imagine the look on SW architects/developers faces when they see the CapEx bill for one rack of 25 kW of data center infrastructure?

    What is your CapEx for a kW of infrastructure?

    Click to read more ...


    Power Aware Computing and Systems Workshop (HotPower ‘09), Oct 10

    On James Hamilton’s blog he mentions a power system workshop.

    HotPower '09 Call for Papers

    The HotPower ’09 workshop will be held on October 10th at the same venue and right before the Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP 2009) at Big Sky Resort Montana. Hotpower recognizes that power is becoming a central issue in the design of all systems from embedded systems to servers for high-scale data centers.


    Power is increasingly becoming a central issue in designing systems, from embedded systems to data centers. We do not understand energy and its tradeoff with performance and other metrics very well. This limits our ability to further extend the performance envelope without violating physical constraints related to batteries, power, heat generation, or cooling.

    HotPower hopes to provide a forum in which to present the latest research and to debate directions, challenges, and novel ideas about building energy-efficient computing systems. In addition, researchers coming to these issues from fields such as computer architecture, systems and networking, measurement and modeling, language and compiler design, and embedded systems will gain the opportunity to interact with and learn from one another.

    This looks like interesting, and I may want to try writing a submission paper and attend the conference. Here is a list of topics the event had.


    Topics of interest related to energy-efficient computing include but are not limited to:

    • Instrumentation, measurement, and measurement studies
    • Energy and performance profiling, accounting
    • Metrics, benchmarks, interfaces
    • Principles of power management
    • Performance, energy and other resource trade-offs, energy complexity
    • Compiler optimization, application design
    • System-level optimization, cross-layer coordination
    • Load and resource modeling, management
    • Scheduling, run-time adaptation, feedback control
    • Processor, network, storage, hardware components and architecture
    • Reliability and power management
    • Application to multi-core, data center, and embedded systems

    Click to read more ...


    Postmortem Thoughts, Google’s Efficient Data Center Summit, ups the competition for data center events

    Google held an innovative event for the data center industry on Apr 1, 2009.  Many readers out there thought the event was an April Fools joke. But ,the only joke was the oil tanker data center.

    As the event closed I asked the folks at Google what they thought of the event and did it meet their expectations.  My hope is that this event sets a new direction for data center events where sponsors cannot buy into the program.  The sponsor based event model has contributed to the current state of the data center industry. As customer stories are integrated to sell products, not necessarily to solve problems.

    Microsoft had their MDX event.

    Summary of Microsoft's Data Center Event - Microsoft Set the Bar

    TechHermit has three different attendees submit comments about the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Data Center Event. Mike Manos, Christian Belady, Daniel Costello, and the rest of the Microsoft Data Center team are changing the data center industry.

    But, the Microsoft event was NDA.  Google is planning on posting the conference on Youtube On Apr 6.

    175 people registered for the event, and 25 of those where Google employees who finally had the chance to share some of their data center experiences for the first time.

    One of the event organizers Chris Malone, Google  Data Center R&D, provided some reflective comments.

    'The aim of the summit was to bring together various groups from the IT industry to discuss best practices for efficient data center design and operation.  We disclosed details about our server and data center design with the aim of demonstrating that best practices can yield substantial efficiency improvements.  Google data centers operate with quarterly average PUE values as low as 1.12, mostly through the rigorous application of best practices that are available to everyone.  When you consider that the typical data center has a PUE of approximately 2.0, it is encouraging that well-understood steps may be applied to significantly improvement efficiency for many data centers.'

    it was great to be able to share some of our innovations with the hope that it will aid the industry in moving toward improved efficiency.

    The speakers and panelists from Google, The Green Grid, Amazon, eBay, The Uptime Institute, LBNL, and the EPA provided a good cross-section of views and ideas from across the IT industry.

    Also, Urs Hoelzle stuck around for the whole event, and was readily accessible by attendees.  I had the pleasure of having multiple conversations and many of his comments align with the above comments by Chris.

    It was fun to Live Blog the event, and I posted more than I thought.  Here are the posts I created for the event.

    Most Popular

    Google’s Container Data Center Video Tour

    How Popular was video tour post?

    My traffic 750% a typical day.

    Technology disclosure

    A 99.9% efficient UPS system

    Water as an issue.

    Few people go through the work to think about the affects of water supply on the data center.

    What’s Next for Data Centers?

    Andrew Fanara discussed the future and how important it is to think about who your data center development partner is.

    When you think about lifecycle management, eWaste is a topic

    Here is an old google server, and Google’s eWaste #’s

    Click to read more ...


    Thanks to Google Data Center Summit Content, A record day for My Blog, 750% the traffic vs. a typical day

    On a typical weekday, I’ll get about 400 views to my blog.  Today, I have 2980 hits. 750% my typical traffic.  The top traffic is to the Google Container Data Center Video Tour.


    Click to read more ...