Sunday, November 20, 2011

Google's efficient data centers

Google operates lots of data centers around the globe and they are definitely leading the way when it comes to data center efficiency. As part of that, they measure and openly publish the efficiency of their data centers using the "Power Usage Efficiency" or PUE metrics. PUE measures what percentage of energy drawn from the grid is used not for powering actual servers, but for overhead such as cooling. The average PUE in US data centers is 2.0, according to an EPA study. Google operates a 12-month trailing PUE of 1.14! Take a look at their data center efficiency page to see the details. They break down their strategy for efficiency in 5 best practices:

  • Measure PUE
  • Manage Air Flow
  • Adjust Thermostat (run hotter)
  • Use Free Cooling (ambient cooling)
  • Optimize power distribution

They also recommend the GreenGrid standards for measuring PUE, which is an interesting set of guidelines to consider.

Given that Workday is sharing data centers with other tenants (co-location), we don't have the same degree of choice, but we are working with our data center providers to understand their respective PUE as well as the energy mix going into powering the data center. This gives us a good understanding of how "green" a data center is in the end.

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