Yes, PUE is the Next Battle Ground

Microsoft’s Steve Clayton posted an interesting question.

Is PUE the new battleground?

I’m reading a lot about data centers of late – so much so that I’m even spelling it the US way already (sigh). What is becoming increasingly clear to me though is that PUE may well be the new battleground between some of the industry heavyweights.

In very basic terms, PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) is the ratio of power incoming to a data center to power used. The theoretical ideal is 1.0 of course which means you’re not wasting any energy. As Mike Manos points out this is all part of the “Industrialization of IT” that he and our GFS team works on. Google and Sun have both been waxing lyrical about PUE of late with some impressive numbers, particularly from Google who cite a PUE of 1.13 in one datacenter. Very impressive indeed.

Yes PUE is the next battleground. 

Why how many servers you have is not a number to be proud of. As Google has found being the largest data center brings a critical eye.


A better number for people relate to market is their PUE.  It is closest thing we have to a MPG.  Ideally there will performance per watt, but given the range of work done in data centers I can’t think of what the performance metric would be.

Last week I talked to Google’s Erik Teetzal about Google’s PUE calculations, and I’ve been thinking of a good post based on our conversation. What I think surprised Google is how much coverage they received regarding their PUE. The main benefit of Google’s press is there are thousands more people who have heard the term PUE.

As Steve Clayton mentions Microsoft’s Mike Manos says the Container Data Center has a PUE of 1.22.  Google’s is 1.21.  Microsoft’s numbers are higher though because they count their office space in the overhead to run the data center.  I think Microsoft is willing to count the office space given they have 1/3 of the reported number of employees Google has in their data centers.

Sun has achieved a PUE of 1.28 in their data centers, and I need to talk to Sun’s Dean Nelson to get more details.

Noticeably absent from the PUE discussion is IBM and HP.  How efficient are the data centers that IBM and HP build? What is their PUE?

Should there be an independent auditing of PUE to ensure accuracy?

A good side effect is the data center vendors are thinking of how to position their products improving PUE.