Slowing Energy Consumption in the Data Center

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Slowing Energy Consumption in the Data Center

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In a new report released this week by Jonathon Koomey, a consulting professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at Stanford University, electricity used by data centers worldwide increased by about 56% from 2005 to 2010, INSTEAD of doubling (as it did from 2000 to 2005).


The slowing of growth in electricity consumption contradicts a 2007 forecast by the Environmental Protection Agency that the explosive expansion of the Internet and the computerization of society would lead to a doubling of power consumed by data centers from 2005 to 2010.

The study found that the actual number of computer servers declined significantly compared to 2010 forecasts because of this lowered demand for computing and because of the financial crisis of 2008 and the emergence of technologies like more efficient computer chips and computer server virtualization, which allows fewer servers to run more programs.

Koomey’s findings highlight the tremendous opportunity we have to work across the industry on application, server and datacenter designs – driving even greater levels of efficiency as cloud infrastructure and services grow.

If you look at the executive brief we recently released and the story on “Microsoft’s Quest for Greater Efficiency in the Cloud”, Christian Belady, General Manager of Datacenter Advanced Development, talks about the metrics that have been introduced recently by the Green Grid such as Carbon Usage Effective (CUE) and Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) to add to the already globally recognized metric of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).

As Christian points out, these are really great metrics to improve sustainability in our industry segment, however, the problem long term with these metrics is that they only optimize the datacenter piece vs. the complete ecosystem. This is why over the past couple years, Christian and our Global Foundation Services team, have been looking at the whole cloud ecosystem as an opportunity for optimization. How does that change how we look at things? How can we integrate across what have been different industry segments to achieve greater efficiencies and an even more sustainable cloud ecosystem than we could have ever imagined? And if we think about data (a processed form of electricity) as a form of energy, how does that change what we are doing today?

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