Stanford, Facebook get others on board with green IT movement

Stanford engineers and Facebook are both hoping to influence others into thinking about their data center power use, even in the cloud.

For both environmental and cost concerns, enterprises are more and more focusing on clean technology. Even in the cloud, companies must look to increasing efficiency and minimizing unnecessary use of data center electricity and power. In this podcast, David Linthicum speaks to Brad Young, environmental scientist and technology marketing specialist at Cloud Technology Partners, all about the green IT movement.

Vendors and users are thinking innovatively all over this market. Using an algorithm similar to the one Netflix uses to recommend movies to its users, Stanford engineers have designed a software tool that aims to reduce the cost of cloud computing by making data centers more efficient. Linthicum and Young discuss this tool, as well as Facebook's energy and water consumption metrics and the National Security Agency's (NSA's) refusal to disclose its water usage. The issues they cover, in more detail, include:

  1. Most of servers in typical data centers are using only 20% of capacity. But Stanford engineers are hoping to change that with their new software tool. Instead of asking developers how much capacity they need, they leave it up to analytics and tools to determine what is most efficient. How does this work? The biggest cost of data centers is power, so, no matter where you sit on the "green" argument, most IT pros will take the same stance on spending money, Linthicum says. But what is software-defined power? And how can Stanford get people to think innovatively about using and managing power consumption?
  2. Facebook recently provided open source code for the system it uses internally to measure the water and power consumption in its data center, along with the dashboard that visualizes this data. Essentially, the code allows companies to have real-time power and water statistics, and may help people understand the massive amounts of power and water that data centers require. How does Facebook compare with Apple and Google in these metrics? What does this information mean for large corporations? As more people are moving to the cloud, how will these metrics affect data center design and management?
  3. According to the NSA, its water usage is a matter of national security. But why would it want to keep these statistics a secret? Why does the NSA want to keep its water usage in its brand-new data center a secret? Why would they build this data center in the middle of a desert anyway?
This was first published in April 2014
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