Google’s Recipe for Green Data Center Success

Posted on 10/25/2011 by

Jim Elliott

These days, a lot of companies are focusing on making their data centers more energy efficient. Increasing the efficiency of your data center is not only environmentally responsible, but it’s also economically smart. One company that has particularly impressed me with its efforts to make data centers more power efficient is Google.

Google has been on the cutting edge of data center design for years, and I was inspired to hear Bill Weihl’s comments at the recent Samsung-Dell CIO Forum. Bill is Google’s Green Energy Czar, responsible for overseeing all of the company’s green energy investments.  He also serves as Co-Chairman of the Board and Vice President of the internationally recognized Climate Savers Computing Initiative.

At the Forum, Bill shared some great advice on reducing a data center’s Power Usage Effectiveness, or PUE rating. While it’s nice to have naturally cold recycled water, custom-designed servers, the latest technology and air-cooled server rooms, Bill argued that data center managers need, first and foremost, more efficient operations. Fortunately, Bill didn’t stop there, giving the audience a “Recipe for Best Practices.”

1)      Fix cooling (systems) first by managing the airflow and using economizers.

2)      Optimize electrical distribution by minimizing conversion steps and picking efficient UPS (uninterruptable power supply) solutions.

3)      Measure and improve your rating.

I was impressed to hear that the trailing twelve-month (TTM), energy-weighted average PUE for Google data centers went from 1.21 in 2008 to 1.16 in 2011. That’s truly a testament to Google’s dedication to lowering carbon emissions, while improving its total cost of ownership (TCO).

Bill argued that the most important lessons to be learned in reducing TCO and CO2 emissions were through applying best practices; consolidating, virtualizing and improving utilization; using renewable energy; and, moving to the cloud. While I agree with Bill’s points, I would have to add that integrating green memory into servers is also an important step to increasing the efficiency of your data center – worthy of being a best practice, like those to which Bill alluded. If you have a moment, try doing the math yourself with one of Samsung’s Green Memory Savings Calculators.

While Google is certainly a leader in data center efficiency, many other companies are doing their part in this space too; some of whom also participated in our CIO Forum. For more highlights from the event, be sure to check out the video below. And, I’d love to know what companies you think are now doing their part to make their data centers greener. Please let me know in the comments section below.

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