Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Power Demands of Cloud Data Centers

Microsoft built a data center in its own backyard in 2006 when it bought about 75 acres in central Washington to build a giant data center to support various Internet services. The facility's appetite for electricity would be fed by hydroelectric generators that work off the flow of the nearby Columbia River, and Microsoft pledged to operate the data center with a focus on energy efficiency and environmental sensitivity. But for neighbors, the high-tech neighbor's shine wore off quickly. A citizens group initiated a legal challenge over pollution from some of approximate 40 giant diesel generators that Microsoft’s facility need for backup power. Worse, in an attempt to erase an approximate $200,000 penalty the utility said the company owed for overestimating its power use, Microsoft proceeded to simply waste millions of watts of electricity, and threatened to continue burning power in what it acknowledged was an “unnecessarily wasteful” way until the fine was substantially cut, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The former Microsoft data center chief who had pledged to operate in an environmentally sensitive way, said he was surprised by the company’s response to the penalty, “those types of decisions would not have been part of the program’s initial inception.” In response, a Microsoft spokeswoman said the company remained committed to the environment, “Microsoft’s focus on efficiency and resource utilization has not changed.” Environmental concerns seem to take a back seat compared to recent economic turmoil, and carbon omissions and electricity usage has dropped from the list of priorities for many. But as businesses start to recover, and the global economy as a whole picks up, the costs associated with running infrastructure and their environmental impact will again become important. Gartner’s Research Vice President Simon Mingay says,
Sustainability is no longer a ‘soft’ and tangential aspect to organisation performance. A sustainable approach to business activities is generating tangible business benefits for organisations today, through a combination of operational efficiencies and market growth opportunities.
Julian Box sees a refocus on the need to be greener will create a new breed of cloud platforms from both established providers, and a new a breed of providers

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