Data centres getting greener, say experts

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The issue of energy efficiency is one the data centre industry is increasingly focused on, according to two speakers at a conference. Storetec News/Blogs. "http://www.storetec.net/news-blog/data-centres-getting-greener-say-experts/".

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Data centres getting greener, say experts

  1. 1. @StoretecHull www.storetec.net Facebook.com/storetec Storetec Services Limited Data Centres Getting Greener, Say Experts The issue of energy efficiency is one the data centre industry is increasingly focused on, according to two speakers at a conference. Attendees of the DatacentreDynamics (DCD) Converged conference in London this week heard from the infrastructure chiefs at Facebook and eBay, two organisations that handle huge volumes of information, about how they have gone about becoming more energy efficient, Computer Weekly reports.
  2. 2. The site noted that this issue has been receiving ever-increasing levels of attention since a prediction in 2008 by analyst McKinsey that the sector was set to overtake airlines as producers of greenhouse gases. Responding to the challenge of storing ever more data without damaging the environment, Thomas Furlong, Facebook’s vicepresident of site operations, said the key to making operations more efficient was to use internal software expertise to make data centre management smarter.
  3. 3. He explained that this included the speeding up of the execution of code through the advent of the HipHop for PHP engine and the HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM). The number of servers in use at Facebook would be "five times as many" without them, Mr Furlong noted. In addition to this, servers had been redesigned to strip them of parts they did not need, while evaporative cooling and better electrical systems had trimmed power use.
  4. 4. "Together, these measures gave us about 38 per cent more efficiency and 24 per cent less cost in our Prineville data centre. We've subsequently replicated the approach in all our buildings," Mr Furlong added. He went on to note that further "tweaking" is part of the plan moving forward, including tailoring energy use in accordance with usage levels of the social network at different times of the day as part of a comprehensive data centre infrastructure management solution. Discussing his own company's approach, eBay's vice-president of global foundation services Dean Wilson said the firm has been basing its strategy on the aim of reducing the energy use per user transaction.
  5. 5. "This promotes continuous improvement, because everyone is looking at which knobs they can turn to make their numbers better. That means you can design datacentres that are really efficient and operate them so they continue to be efficient," he noted. A large number of new technological innovations have been adopted by eBay to help reduce its energy usage: bloom fuel cells, high density clusters, liquid cooling and onsite power generation using natural gas supplies were among the initiatives listed by Mr Nelson.
  6. 6. "We've seen a 40 per cent increase in transactions and added 34 per cent more servers to our infrastructure, yet we have only consumed 24 per cent more power. This means over that 18-month period we've avoided using 1.6 megawatts of power that we would have needed had we not turned the knobs we did," he concluded. If this is what large corporations like Facebook and eBay can do, smaller data centres may find their own solutions that are appropriate to their smaller scales, although some of the technological developments used by the large companies may work for them too.
  7. 7. Such developments can be of great interest to firms who want to improve their data storage but also become greener. There are many obvious good reasons for doing away with paper filing; apart from its vulnerability to damage, lack of access outside the office and the space it takes up, paper storage can mean cutting down a lot of trees. Therefore, it may be reassuring to know that, far from being unrepentant gas-guzzlers, data centres are doing everything possible to manage and minimise their energy use.
  8. 8. This will be particularly important in the future as companies generate ever-increasing amounts of data but also want to contribute to saving the ecosystem, rather than destroying it. The need for more storage capacity particularly applies to sectors like media and entertainment, which a report by International Data Corporation recently indicated would need extra space as it backs up more data and monetises content, with the latter factor meaning it will become a financial necessity to protect it.
  9. 9. If all that can be done without the greenhouse gases, it will be good news for all. Storetec News/Blogs. "http://www.storetec.net/news-blog/datacentres-getting-greener-say-experts/". Data Centres Getting Greener, Say Experts. November 26, 2013. Storetec.

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