HP Thinks Data Centers are Just the Start

HP’s Shane Robinson has a Forbes commentary on HP’s efforts in energy efficient data centers.


HP Rethinks Energy

Shane Robison, 08.17.09, 06:00 AM EDT

Data centers are just the start.


Shane Robison

In Wynyard, a small village on the northeastern coast of England, a non-descript warehouse contains the kernel of a revolutionary approach to the energy crisis.
Inside, Hewlett-Packard is building one of the most powerful--and sustainable--data centers in the world. We've deployed industry-standard hardware to democratize the massive computing power once trapped in mainframes. Automation and virtualization enable that power to be flexed, scaled and shared. Intelligent software translates the raw data captured into meaningful information.
But that's just the beginning. We've applied a systems approach to the entire building and its surrounding environment, from the sensors used to light the rows of servers to the roof that will collect runoff rainwater for landscaping and fire protection. And we're leveraging the cold wind blowing off the North Sea to lower temperatures of the information technology (IT) equipment. We anticipate energy savings of 40%. When complete, the facility will be one of the largest and most efficient in Europe.

As a technology company, HP promotes the idea technology has a role to replace carbon intensive uses.

But ultimately, the goal is making the world lighter, also called "dematerialization." Information technology can help replace energy-intensive and carbon-heavy methods--with basic materials, business processes or entire business models. Think of how the digital transformation has completely redefined the production and distribution of music.

One set of numbers I hadn’t seen is this one.

By 2012, all of the servers in the world will use as much power as was used by all of Mexico in 2007. Breakthroughs in photonics allow us to use light instead of copper wire to transmit data. Not only can we reduce the use of natural resources, we can dramatically reduce energy consumption, taking another step forward from the work we've done at Wynyard.