People just don't get it, Green is important, employees (the talent) care

I read this post by IDG's James Niccolai.  I know James so I was curious what he writes on the Green topic at Uptime Symposium.

Datacentres show signs of 'green fatigue'

Success stories from cutting-edge firms such as Google and Microsoft are causing a backlash at less capable data centers

A new survey from the Uptime Institute suggests fatigue is setting in when it comes to making datacentres greener, and it may be partly due to overachievers like Google and Microsoft.



James continues with input from Matt Stansberry.

"A lot of these green initiatives, like raising server inlet temperatures and installing variable-speed fans, are seen as somewhat risky, and they're not something you do unless you have a bunch of engineers on staff," he said.

But there may be other factors at work. Stansberry suspects that managers at smaller datacentres are simply fed up hearing about success stories from bleeding-edge technology companies such as Google, and their survey responses may reflect frustration at their inability to keep up.

"I don't really think that half the datacentres in the US aren't focused on energy efficiency, I think they're just sick of hearing about it," he said. "You've got all these big companies with brilliant engineers and scads of money, and then there's some guy with a bunch of old hardware sitting around thinking, What the hell am I supposed to do?"

I just spent a week in NC and was talking to lots of folks in the data center industry. And you know I think everyone who I spent more than 30 seconds chatting to had a concern for the environment.  So, what is different between the people I was chatting to and the people filling out an Uptime survey? Well, they know I care about the environment, so that biases our conversations given I care.  I wonder if people think Uptime Institute cares about the environment?  

What I did find for a bit of perspective was a post by Mike Manos from 2008 that Uptime's Ken Brill has branded Microsoft and Google as enemy of the traditional data center operators.

I was personally greatly disappointed with the news coming out of last week that the Uptime Institute had branded Microsoft and Google as the enemy to traditional data center operators.  To be truthful, I did not give the reports much credit especially given our long and successful relationship with that organization.  However, when our representatives to the event returned and corroborated the story, I have to admit that I felt more than  a bit let down.

As reported elsewhere, there are some discrepancies in how our mission was portrayed versus the reality of our position.


The comments that Microsoft and Google are the biggest threat to the IT industry and that Microsoft is “making the industry look bad by putting our facilities in areas that would bring the PUE numbers down” are very interesting.

Here is Harvard Business Review blog post on sustainability fitting in the battle for talent.

Sustainability Matters in the Battle for Talent

Employees at semiconductor-chip-maker Intel recently devised a new chemistry process that reduced chemical waste by 900,000 gallons, saving $45 million annually. Another team developed a plan to reuse and optimize networking systems in offices, which cut energy costs by $22 million.

The projects produced financial and environmental benefits, of course. But just as valuable is the company's ability to energize and empower front-line employees. New data shows that sustainability is an increasingly important factor in attracting and managing talent.

This point reminds me of one piece of data I have on the hunt for talent.  When Olivier Sanche was recruiting he once asked me guess how many people have read my post on his going to Apple and caring about the environment? I don't know. 25%?  Everyone.  Every person says they read your post and they expect me to save the polar bears and they want to work for a person who has passion for the environment.  

Look who are some of the most vocal green data center companies - Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft.  You can argue who is the best out of these 4.  These 4 are investing in greener initiatives on a regular basis.  

Green fatigue could be caused by misguided efforts more than whether green is important.

If you were trying to lose weight and get in better shape, would you give up on the diet and exercise that didn't work.  Sure you're frustrated, but that doesn't mean you should give up.

Part of the argument is it takes a lot of money to do these green things, but even Google has shown how it has used very little money to improve its operations. Here is Google's paper on its improvements in a POP room.


Every year, Google saves millions of dollars and avoids emitting tens of thousands of tons of . carbon dioxide thanks to our data center sustainability efforts. In fact, our facilities use half the energy of a typical data center. This case study is intended to show you how you can apply some . of the cost-saving measures we employ at Google to your own data centers and networking rooms. At Google, we run many large proprietary data centers, but we also maintain several smaller networking rooms, called POPs or “Points of Presence”. POPs are similar to millions of small and medium-sized data centers around the world. This case study describes the retrofit of one of . these smaller rooms, describing best practices and simple changes that you can make to save thousands of dollars each year. For this retrofit, Google spent a total of $25,000 to optimize this room’s airflow and reduce . air conditioner use. A $25,000 investment in plastic curtains, air return extensions, and a new . air conditioner controller returned a savings of $67,000/year. This retrofit was performed without any operational downtime.