Notes from The Green Grid Technical Forum

I had a great time at the Green Grid Technical Forum this week and I wanted to share some of the highlights. In the spirit of the “did you know?” theme of the event:

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Keynote by Skip Laitner on the first day of the meetingI learned about the role efficiency plays in economic growth. According to his statistics  - did you know that approximately 75% of the demand for new energy since 1970 has been met through technology efficiency?

In the Keynote on the public day by Rob Atkinson of ITIF we learned that efficiency alone will not get us to where we need to be in energy supply. Rob made a strong argument that government focus on regulating energy use in data centers is misguided. Although IT equipment accounts for about 2% of world energy use, the world needs more IT, not less of it. Of course we need to make IT equipment into more efficient GreenIT equipment, but Rob went through serveral examples where the innovation of efficient IT has reduced energy consumption in the "other 98%." We cannot rely on policymakers to come up with a solution. We need innovation to “de-carbonize” the world’s energy system and delvier the 84% efficiency needed to meet future demand.

Dean Nelson of eBay told us in an unpublished panel discussion that the important performance metric of the future is not Ops/Second. It’s now Transactions/Watt, Listings per Watt and Dollar per Watt. To keep pace with a business that doubles every 18-24 months eBay had to break the relationship between growth and cost. They did it through some very unconventional (but solidly financial) thinking, including refreshing servers every two years. In three years eBay has  reduced their Watt/Listing by ~ 70%! This kind of thinking has helped eBay to avoid the significant cost of building new data centers. In the Data Center Pulse top 10 we also learned about the need to move from availability to resiliency in the data center.

John Tuccillo, the Green Grid President and Chairman of the Board, and Mark Monroe, the Executive Director of the Green Grid, told us about the State of the Green Grid  and the new mission “To become the global authority on resource efficient data centers and business computing ecosystems.” With the release of the WUE and CUE metrics , the Green Grid is well on its way.

Harqs Singh presented the data center maturity model and John Haas, also newly named as the Technical Committee Chair, reviewed progress on the Data Center design guide. These two documents compile a huge breadth of Industry knowledge and will set the stage for data centers of the future. A very nice paper presenting the differences between cooling architectures in the data center was also presented.

I attended many other interesting sessions and had some fascinating hallway conversations with both colleagues in the industry and some analysts. Did you know that the vision of sustainable business in France includes human rights conditions of workers? Did you know that an Energy Checker SDK to monitor the efficiency of software has been developed and is available for use and that DCeP productivity proxy work is beginning? Did you know that the first EPA Energy Star certification based on PUE was delivered in June 2010? Did you know that the Green Grid is looking at developing a “siting guide” that will pull from data bases to help data center operators choose data center locations against PUE, WUE, and CUE criteria? Here is a link to all the Technical Forum content.

Overall the event was extraordinary. As John Tuccillo stated, it's very exciting to imagine what the event will become by next year!