The inefficient data centers are fading vs. Rapid Growth of the Efficient - Google, AWS, Facebook, Microsoft

The NRDC fired off a blog post this morning that got a bunch of other media to discuss the waste in the data center industry.

Our study shows that many small, mid-sized, corporate and multi-tenant data centers still waste much of the energy they use. One of the key issues is that many of the roughly 12 million U.S. servers operate most of the time doing little or no work but still drawing power – up to 30 percent of servers are “comatose” and no longer needed but still drawing significant amounts of power, many others are grossly underutilized. However, opportunities abound to reduce energy waste in the data center industry as a whole. The technology exists, but systemic measures are needed to remove the barriers limiting its broad adoption across the industry. 


Over the last 5 years the data center growth of Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and many others has been growing a pace that blows away the rest.  The old dominants of financials has grown slowly or even declined with the exception of the analytics group that has built huge data farms.

Even though the NRDC raises concerns about the waste, the reality is the Cloud is helping to put so many of these old servers out of business.  But, the top issue is IT asset management is too many times poorly executed, making it difficult to identify the servers that can be turned off.

Gigaom Research analyst Dave Ohara said the report brings up valid points, but more factors need to be considered. CPU utilization is just one metric, Ohara said via email. “RAM and hard-disks also use up energy … and can be just as underutilized …  The problem is that IT asset management is mostly done as a bookkeeping exercise, not as part of a technical IT operations team who purchases, owns and operates the servers.”

Too many times the people who operate the servers can’t find the history of who owns the assets and what is on them.