How “Green” Are Microsoft Online Services

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Environmental Sustainability Team

How “Green” Are Microsoft Online Services

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As some of you know, the Environmental Sustainability team has recently created a Twitter account to enhance the conversation around Sustainability and Microsoft. You can find us on Twitter @microsoft_green. A few weeks ago, Diane Gallagher (@farthestcorners) asked microsoft_green the following question: “Do you know how the BPOS solution measures up from a "green" standpoint?”. Since 140 characters would not allow for a full response, we decided to post the Global Foundation Services Team’s answer here on the blog:

While Microsoft doesn’t publish specific numbers for individual services, we are aggressively working to drop the average yearly PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) below 1.2 PUE for all new datacenter designs by 2010. We believe a big part of efficiency improvements are behavioral as well as technical. For this reason we incent our employees on efficiency improvements, as well as charge our internal groups for online services for data center space/costs based on percentage of power consumed.

We also are actively pursuing the following technologies:

1. Containers: which offer interesting benefits from an efficiency stand-point.  Vendors compete on most efficient designs.

2. Economization: is already used in some of our data centers. Our Dublin facility uses outside air all year round except for one or two days. We are also exploring broader range operating environments so we can deploy chiller-less data centers in a large portion of the globe for huge power and CAPEX savings

3. Offline UPS: moving to newer more efficient UPS technologies that eliminate the double conversion of online UPSs.

4. Virtualization: a set of Microsoft products and technologies that enable dynamic resources to match computing capabilities to business needs. Virtualization hides the physical characteristics of computing resources from their users, be they applications, or end users.  Thru technologies such as Hyper-V, Microsoft is increasing utilization year over year which in turn helps increase the productivity per watt of our operations.

5. Life cycle sustainability: to reduce the company's environmental footprint, Microsoft has implemented a number of best practices and policy guidelines that drive its construction and facility operations worldwide. Examples include: benchmarks for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, high efficiency electric motors for pumps and fans, electronic variable speed drives, electronic ballasts for fluorescent lamps, occupancy dimmers, etc. as well as using clean, renewable hydropower from the Columbia River Basin as the primary energy source for our data center in Quincy to minimize its carbon footprint.

6. Server Hardware: we are working actively with our OEM partners to design servers that are highly optimized for energy efficiency.  Our current RFPs are driving:

· Efficient Power supplies – all vendors are requested to meet or exceed climate savers specifications for power supplies to drive more power to computation

· Broad range Operating environments – Increase ambient from 20-25C to 10-35C to increase economization opportunities

· Productivity per watt – Requiring vendors to provide SPECpower reporting as well as Microsoft’s further characterization for application performance per watt

The GFS team published some blogs about our measurement philosophy, specifically related to PUE, that highlight our commitment to more efficient data centers:

· Part 1:

· Part 2:

· Part 3:

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