Which do you like? Google's 5 data center best practices or Microsoft's list of 10

How you present information can make a big difference on the perception.  Here are two different ways to present which are fundamentally the same ideas from Google and Microsoft.

It is fairly obvious which one is more user friendly.

Microsoft released its update 10 Business Practices for Environmentally Sustainable Data Centers and posted a document here.

Google has their Data Center Best Practices with a list of 5.

1. Measure PUE

You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so characterize your data center’s efficiency performance by measuring energy use. We use a ratio called PUE - Power Usage Effectiveness - to help us reduce energy used for non-computing, like cooling and power distribution. To effectively use PUE it’s important to measure often - we sample at least once per second. It’s even more important to capture energy data over the entire year - seasonal weather variations have a notable affect on PUE.

2. Manage airflow

Good air flow management is fundamental to efficient data center operation. Start with minimizing hot and cold air mixing by using well-designed containment. Eliminate hot spots and be sure to use blanking plates for any unpopulated slots in your rack. We’ve found a little analysis can pay big dividends. For example, thermal modeling using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) can help you quickly characterize and optimize air flow for your facility without many disruptive reorganizations of your computing room. Also be sure to size your cooling load to your expected IT equipment, and if you are building extra capacity, be sure your cooling approach is energy proportional.

3. Adjust the thermostat

Raising the cold aisle temperature will reduce facility energy use. Don’t try to run your cold aisle at 70F; set the temperature at 80F or higher — virtually all equipment manufacturers allow this. For facilities using economizers (we strongly recommend it), running elevated cold aisle temperatures is critical as it enables more days of “free cooling” and more energy savings.

4. Use free cooling

“Free cooling” is removing heat from your facility without using the chiller. This is done by using low temperature ambient air, evaporating water, or using a large thermal reservoir. Chillers are the dominant energy using component of the cooling infrastructure; minimizing their use is typically the largest opportunity for savings. There is no one ‘right’ way to free cool - but water or air-side economizers are proven and readily available.

5. Optimize power distribution

Minimize power distribution losses by eliminating as many power conversion steps as possible. For the conversion steps you must have, be sure to specify efficient equipment transformers and power distribution units (PDUs). One of the largest losses in data center power distribution is from the uninterruptible power supply (UPS); be sure to specify a high efficiency model. Also keep as high a voltage as close to the load as feasible to reduce line losses.

The Microsoft blog post is not as simple as Google’s.

Microsoft’s Top 10 Business Practices for Environmentally Sustainable Data Centers

Posted by Global Foundation Services in
Data Centers, Efficiency and Sustainability
blog author image

Dileep Bhandarkar Ph.D.,

Distinguished Engineer,

Global Foundation Services

Microsoft recognizes the tough challenges that data center and IT managers face today as they struggle to support their businesses in the face of rising costs and uncertainty about the future. But the fact is - being “lean and green” is good for both the business and the environment.

It isn’t always easy to know where to begin in moving to greener and more efficient operations. With that in mind-we are sharing our updated Top Ten Best Business Practices for Environmentally Sustainable Data Centers white paper. In this rapidly changing environment it is important that we all continually reassessed and share our best practices with each other. For this reason, senior members of Microsoft’s Global Foundation Services (GFS) team have pooled their key learnings in this white paper.

As you’ll read in the list of best practices we’ve compiled, companies can make major gains by providing incentives to your team to reduce energy consumption and drive greater efficiencies across the entire data center and employing a wide range of practices that can collectively add up to significant gains. Microsoft has been using these practices for several years now and has found that in addition to helping to improve environmental sustainability, they make best use of our resources and help us stay tightly aligned with our core strategies and business goals. 

Microsoft’s top ten best practices for creating sustainable data centers are based on some basic principles: 

Effective resource utilization matters.Energy efficiency is an important element in Microsoft business practices, but equally important is the effective use of resources deployed. We eliminate features that are not essential for operating the services. This principle drives our efforts to right size our servers based on application requirements. Virtualization also improves server utilization by consolidating multiple instances of an application on the same hardware. Our data center designs offer various levels of redundancy to meet the resiliency needs of the different applications.


Standardization reduces variability and improves agility and costs, while reducing errors.  A major initiative in Microsoft data centers involves standardizing the platform. High degree of variability in the infrastructure can increase costs. Standardizing on a small set of servers, network equipment and data center technologies can drive economies of scale, and reduce support costs. Custom deployments are more error prone and expensive.

A holistic approach to total cost of ownership is essential.It is tempting to make purchase decisions based on acquisition costs, but often support and operating costs can be a dominant factor over the life of the equipment. The total cost of ownership should be evaluated against the value proposition of the equipment purchased. For example, consider the cost/performance of your servers instead of just performance. Make sure that reducing costs in one aspect of the operation does not increase cost somewhere else. Spending more on a higher efficiency power supply can reduce the total cost of ownership!