Electricity Supply Chain Management

Sun guru foresees data center disaster in '08

One of the top engineers at Sun Microsystems this week predicted that a large data center would suffer a "massive failure" during the next twelve months, causing "major national effects," including possible "national security issues," and underscoring "the importance of data centers as national assets.” In a talk with reporters, Sun vice president and distinguished engineer Subodh Bapat said the disaster would be on the scale of that caused when Robert Morris unleashed his infamous Morris Worm on November 2, 1988.

Bapat is also right to point to electricity as a weak link in the system. The centralization of computing can bring dramatic increases in overall energy efficiency, compared to the fragmented, subscale private data centers we have today. The megacenters tend to operate at much higher levels of capacity utilization than the private centers can achieve, and their operators have the skill and wherewithal to install cutting-edge power-management and cooling technologies. At the same time, however, the centralization of computing assets concentrates energy demand, putting new strains on the aging electric grid. Efficiency increases, but vulnerability does, too.

I agree that a major data center will suffer a massive failure, and that electricity is the weak leak in the system. Whether it will cause a national effect, don't know.  Will it be hyped and draw attention to the importance of data centers and electricity supply chain management, hopefully, yes.