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back to article Efficient data centers make companies less green

Being green is obviously a huge concern for the tech industry. It doesn't take an industry microscope to see hardware vendors scampering to improve their hardware efficiency to appeal to folks sweating over the rising cost to power a data center. But Christian Belady, Hewlett-Packard's "distinguished technologist" doesn't see …

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J

Ah...

...the beauty of a moral, conscientious mentality:

"If gas went down to 20 cents a gallon, I guarantee you I would take my house off the power grid and run on gas."

If I don't do it, someone else will. Exactly... Capitalism won, after all. So it goes.

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I never thought of it from the Green perspective

The problem that I've seen with the cost of computing hardware going down is that much of the computing resource is wasted. In our case, we have about 3000 servers of various types. Most of these support a single application, and are virtually idle most of the time. The other problem is that the common solution for performance problems is to just 'throw hardware at it', rather than actually trying to tune things.

We used to have most of the space in our data center consumed by the mainframe, now, the mainframe just sits in the corner in a couple cabinets, while we have racks and racks of servers.

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the solution, more than the ingredients

Lots of great points here - I think the more enlightened people in the industry have recognised these issues for quite some time now (albeit, as highlighted by the above, not necessarily in this context) ... it is interesting (and encouraging!) to see the light of recognition among so many of us now though.

I think there is a fundamental point people have not quite recognised in the essence of 'Green IT' (call it what you will) ... That is that the real benefits will come from how we apply IT to enable reduced personal or organisational/corporate environmental footprint (and therefore cost savings). This should represent at least as much impact as minimising the impact of IT itself.

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Data centre cooling is the real problem.

The problem currently, really, is that data centre cooling systems haven't really changed in decades. Yes, the cooling systems have become bigger and some have per-rack chillers but essentially they're still just big refrigerators, wasting electricity cooling recycled air and pumping it inefficiently into the atmosphere.

What is really needed, therefore, is a more intelligent use of the waste heat and a more intelligent way of cooling the servers.

Now, let's look at the UK, for the majority of the year external temperatures are at or below optimum operating temperatures for systems. So, why not use that external air, passed through filters, directly as cooling air and then pass the clean, warmed air out of the data centre and into the offices where it can do some use on a winter's day and save some heating costs? During the summer, assuming it's warmer than this one, then you will need chillers to cool the incoming airflow and possibly some recycling of the internal air could be used, but overall the yearly energy bill would go through the floor.

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Thin Clients

We use thin clients and a citrix servers which surely consumes less power than standard desktops!

Also does this mean that by dedicating our idle CPU usage to cancer curing research and never having an idle CPU we are in fact contributing to global warming? Anything which does not kill you, only passes the baton to the next thing!

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Stephen Usher makes a very valid observation ...

At work we don't have chillers to cool our server room - just some reasonably sized fans. Even at the height of summer they keep the room 'cool enough' - parhaps not as cool as we would like, but certainly cool enough for us not to worry. Certainly in the UK (and out of built up areas), it's rare for the air temperature to get so hot that this won't work - as long as you can shift enough air. So there is another factor for the hardware vendors to look at - increase their allowable temperature range and more people can dispense with the chillers which require an extra 33% (approx) of the server room power load in order to cool it.

And yes, one of my jobs in the next month or two is to put in another fan to send some of that nice warm air around our office - but not right now !

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