There has been far too much talk about a recent NY Times article that came out earlier in the week painting datacenters as massive consumers and wasters of electricity and resources. Somehow I feel like the article misses the point.
I do not wish to refute the fact that Datacenters are built as power consumptive buildings whose only purpose is to feed and cool servers that ideally never stop running. This is reality.
To go along side the reality that the “digital age” would simply not exist without these facilities, the only commentary I found fruitful while digging around was from John Furrier on his site SiliconAngle.com. I encourage you to visit and read this well written post.
Having walked through nearly 25 different Datacenters over the past year in NorCal alone and dozens of conversations with owner/operators of another 50+ facilities recently built or renovated in the past 12-24 months, I have to rehash and emphasis a point made in John’s article, “Datacenter operators and designers will conserve energy only if they think they can extend the life of a datacenter, not for any sentiment around being green or environmentally friendly.”
The economics of these facilities are paramount. As newer facilities are designed to optimize the delivery of power to the rack in as redundant a fashion as possible, they are able to pass on these savings to the customer, leaving only those unaware of the recent datacenter technological advancements stuck in facilities that are not so efficient or effective in their utilization or uptime and paying a premium for it.
I’d be willing to bet facilities that can’t run at or below a specific 1.7 or 1.8 PUE will be decommissioned or renovated within the next 2-5 years either through regulation or customers simply threatening to leave unless the facility brings itself up to speed with current conditions.
Again, I think the absolute key issue here revolves around the economics of these facilities. Every month we are taking new clients out of a facility that has high power/sqft costs due to location/power/brand and nearly dropping in half their monthly nut moving them to facilities that are operating at a far lower cost and yet offering the same, if not better, connectivity, support and reliability.
Though the transitions being made will come much slower than the consumer market pushing more and more efficient PC’s/Laptops/Smart Phones, I feel the same analogies apply in that newer facilities are delivering more for less when designed and managed appropriately. It is inevitable that the same transition and changes will occur in the not so distant future, most assuredly as more and more of the compute resources being used are pooled through private and public elastic hosting solutions/providers.
The fact of the matter is that business is driven by efficiency. If a Datacenter can deliver a solution that is more power efficient than the competitor, the lower price makes a compelling sale.
How many customers are willing to drive the market for environmental friendliness with cost-savings as an afterthought? How long would those customers survive?
Let me know what you think.