The New York Times article is missing the narrative of how data center operators, like Google, have responded to inefficiency

New York Times Article on Data Center Efficiency Only Tells Half of the Story: Data Center Knowledge

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Over the weekend The New York Times released its first feature in a series on energy and sustainability issues and the Internet, and it didn’t take long for the article to receive a scathing response from the data center industry.

Based on research collected over the past year, “Power, Pollution and the Internet” takes a look at the energy usage of data center facilities. Still, despite all of the effort, many feel that the research is one-sided and outdated, particularly since data center design has changed a lot over the past five years.

Facebook, for example, recently opened up about its water and energy usage in its Prineville, Oregon, data center. Facebook has open sourced the designs of its Oregon facility in order to improve data center efficiency across the industry.

Google has utilized sea water to cool its Finland data center, and has reported that its data centers consume 50 percent less energy than the industry average.

About 20 percent of Google’s data center energy is made up of renewable and clean energy, while Facebook reports 23 percent of its energy usage is derived from renewable and clean sources. While it’s not perfect, the industry has come a long way over the past few years.

Rich Miller at Data Center Knowledge says that while the Times has raised many valid points, its missing a key angle.

What’s missing is the narrative of how the industry has responded to the challenge of its inefficiency and environmental stewardship. The last five years have seen dramatic changes in the way the largest data centers are designed and operated, as companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft have vastly improved the energy efficiency of their server farms by overhauling their power distribution systems, using fresh air instead of power-hungry chillers (“free cooling”) to cool their servers, and running their facilities at warmer temperatures. New design schemes for modular data centers have emerged, offering  highly-efficient designs to customers with smaller operations than Google or Facebook.  And we’re even seeing a growing focus on renewable energy, highlighted by Apple’s massive commitment to on-site solar energy and landfill-powered fuel cells.

Read more: The New York Times Blasts “Cloud Factories” on Energy Use

Talk back: Have you read the New York Times article yet? What do you think is missing? Let us know in a comment.

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One Comment

  1. It is cool to see some of the big companies of our time making efforts to lessen their impact on the environment. It is not perfect but progress is progress and I'll take it!