Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Postcards from day #3, Uptime Institute's Green Enterprise Computing Symposium

Today is the last day at the Uptime Institute's 2008 Symposium, and while it had an abbreviated schedule, it might have been the most information-rich day of all.

Early morning:
We opened with 4 perspectives on public-sector data center work:

On Products:
Andrew Fanara (of the EPA Energy Star program) gave an overview of their progress toward an Energy Star spec for computer servers for Tier-I/Tier-II data center use. The first version of the spec has already gone out for review/comment; the 2nd draft is dues mid-June; the 2nd stakeholder meeting is set for July 7 in the Seattle area; the final version of the spec is targeted by the end of CY2008. Andrew expects the spec to focus on 5 areas:
1) Net AC/DC power efficiency
2) Standardized reporting/polling
3) Power and temperature reporting
4) Idle power levels
5) Power management and virtualization “hooks”

On Buildings & data centers:
Michael Zats (of the EPA buildings division) then went on to describe the Energy Star Labeled Buildings program, and plans to extend the ratings system to data centers. There are currently 1,700 partners leveraging the energy star for buildings program, representing 11 billion square feet of commercial/industrial space. Over 70,000 buildings are currently measured/tracked, and 4,000 buildings have the Energy Star lable (representing the top 20% of the population). Michael is not spinning up a similar program for data centers, and asked the audience for volunteers – EPA needs at least 125 data centers to populate their comparison data base (with 12 months of data) to begin the process… and if you’re interested, materials can be found on the Energy Star Site ; additional inquiries can be made at

On Data Center Technology:
Paul Scheihing of the US DOE reviewed their Save Energy Now program and their DC-Pro data center assessment too plans. Their goal is to drive a 25% reduction in energy intensity for data centers. They are/will be providing Tools, training, information, standards and assessment tools to the public. But what’s really great about this initiative (far ahead of any private-sector initiative, as far as I can tell) is that it’s got these multiple resources. The tool not only helps you rank the overall efficiency of your data center against others (confidentially, of course) but will provide tons of input/ideas as to where to look for savings and efficiencies. (I actually grabbed Mike Zats outside the hall, and he spoke highly of the DOE’s tool, almost to the point where it was too sophisticated). Paul also made mention of DOE’s sponsoring some technology demonstration projects, but I have yet to see how/when/where these will be presented.

On other public sector work
Ray Pfeifer of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Energy Efficient Data Center Project then gave an overview of their initiatives, with a goal in CA of a 15% reduction in industrial sector consumption. (Cassatt, I might add, is an active member of this project).

Late Morning:

There was then an insightful panel covering external work being done by ASHRAE, SPEC/SPECpower, and the Green Grid – and then, somewhat of a treat: Tosh Shimizo, GM of IT and new business with Tokyo Electric Power Co. gave an overview of his company’s data center facilities and level of power grid reliability. They provide 64GW of power to Tokyo, and have only 3 mins of downtime/year… far better than what is found in the US, the UK, or France.

The second treat was Will Forest of McKinsey & Co. presenting a fantastic data center efficiency report to the group. It’s chock-full of great charts and analyses In short, it focused on improving Power Capacity planning, power efficiency, and asset management. Organizationally, he also advocated the “one throat to choke” approach to making the CIO accountable for the TCO of the entire data center (assets + facility). McKinsey’s recommendation was CADE (Combined Average Data center efficiency) essentially Facility efficiency x Asset efficiency. Deeper-down, facility efficiency is composed of facility energy efficiency * facility utilization, and asset efficiency is composed of IT energy efficiency * IT utilization. Simple…. But I suspect there will be disagreement on units…

Finally, for me, Christina Page, Yahoo!’s director of climate and energy strategy gave a lunchtime presentation on curbing carbon emissions, and what Yahoo! is doing to become carbon-neutral. The big takeaway: not all kilowatts are created equally – be careful *where* you use them (is the source coal? Nuclear? Wind? US? India?) and *when* you use them (peak? Off-peak?). These factors are as important as the net kW that you consume.

Thanks for reading. Now it’s back to the airport…

… and don’t forget the theme: measure, measure, measure.

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