Friday, May 28, 2010

TEAM Companies Data Center Video

Data center services provider TEAM Companies has released a new video that does a fly-through of a typical data center. The modular design used in a TEAM facility is broken out in this video into infrastructure layers that depict power, cooling, telecom, data rooms and network operations center.

TEAM Companies operates multi-tenant data centers in Cedar Falls and Des Moines, Iowa, as well as Madison, Wisconsin.

The video runs 8 minutes, 34 seconds.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Site Selection and Energy 2010

I always hate going too far into smart grid, alternative energy or greentech territory on this, a data center blog, but..... with data centers consuming as much as they do, I have to imagine it is on the mind of many of those interested in data centers.

A short while back released The Site Selection Energy Report and after glancing through it, I filled a dozen or so Firefox tabs worth of related stories and interesting tidbits. The first section covers the best places for renewable energy power plants and shows why going with the greenfield option isn't necessarily the greenest thing to do.

The article discusses part of the EPA's program for RE-Powering America's Land where the DoE and NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) did a feasibility study of 12 sites in the U.S. where renewable energy production (wind, solar or small hydro) might take place on Superfund, brownfields, and former landfill or mining sites. I am also a Google Earth fanatic, so the renewable energy interactive mapping tool on the EPA's site was really cool. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took some ARRA money to take a second look at cutting some of the red tape and expense for developers using BLM land. In 2008 $5.5 billion was paid to Federal and State governments for Federal onshore energy leasing and production.

In the Sustainable Design section of the report Dell is highlighted -- for completing their 516 panel solar installation in October 2009, dubbed "Solar Grove". The 130 kW array at Round Rock Texas headquarters will help them in avoiding approximately 145,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Envision Solar created tree canopy's in Dell's parking lots and to date has installed more than 9 MW of solar arrays for commercial, residential and public entities worldwide.

In the Energy Matters section, they discuss a program backed by European Union funding through the Welsh Assembly Government:

"The Low Carbon Research Institute energy program led by the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, is building with Corus Colors a Sustainable Building Envelope Center in order to showcase and test sustainable building products."

Just prior to the June 9-11 Intersolar Conference in Munich, there will be a session on doing solar business in the UK That session will discuss what to do now that the feed-in-tarrif was enacted to encourage the adoption of renewable energy sources.

Finally, the report covers Saul Griffith, an inventory who helped found Makani (wind,breeze), a company that Google invested $15 million in. Makani plans to skip the towers and oversized turbines and just use kites and smaller turbines to generate power.

Taking a larger step back to view the bigger picture, Yale's Environment360 site has an interesting article by NewYorker author Elizabeth Kolbert, who disucsses the Anthropocene Debate
"As epochs go, the Holocene is barely out of diapers; its immediate predecessor, the Pleistocene, lasted more than two million years, while many earlier epochs, like the Eocene, went on for more than 20 million years. Still, the Holocene may be done for. People have become such a driving force on the planet that many geologists argue a new epoch — informally dubbed the Anthropocene — has begun."

Apparently a group of geologists listed more than a half dozen human-driven processes that are likely to leave a lasting mark on the planet. I didn't read the entire report, but luckily data centers were not listed as an anthroprocenal cause (hey, that was a fun word to make up).

Forrester's Doug Washburn has a part one of his series on The Evolution of Green IT. In short Doug walks through the business case justification for Green IT. Doug also tweeted an interesting article at on Technology takes a lead in cutting carbon.

The Ethiopian Review reports on global finance giant Deutsche Bank (DB) and their best practices for environmental sustainability. Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors operates the real-time Carbon Counter in Madison Square Garden, a 69 foot billboard that displays a running total of long-lived greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere. DB hopes to change the way data centers are thought of and extend their lifetime as dynamic eco-systems where innovations increase efficiency and they challenge themselves to conserve IT resources where practical.

"We calculate IT eco-efficiency using three percentages. Data center infrastructure efficiency tells you what percentage of the energy consumed in a data center actually gets to the hardware. Hardware power relative efficiency tells you how much computing capability you are getting from each watt relative to best-in-class hardware; we had to develop our own metric here based on external benchmarks and our selection of a reference server to make a notional 100 percent reference point. And, of course, hardware utilization efficiency gets you more useful work from the available compute cycles. The nice thing is that you can multiply these three percentages to arrive at an overall energy efficiency metric for each facility."

CO2K in motion? you bet.

Finally, a SeekingAlpha article really caught my attention on Why Google Could Crush the Coal ETF. The article discusses how data centers are targeted because they are the lifeline of the Internet and how many cloud providers are in fact located in areas where electricity is generated primarily at coal-fired power plants. In January this year Google formed a new subsidiary - Google Energy SeekingAlpha contrasts two funds, the Market Vectors-Coal ETF (NYSE: KOL) and First Trust ISE Global Wind Energy ETF (NYSE: FAN).

Interesting times we live in -- the anthropocene era, CO2K, and methane generated energy for the data center!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Heartland Green Up Wrap-up

Last Wednesday I attended the Heartland Green Up in Des Moines. Besides being a big proponent of technology, Iowa, and technology in Iowa -- this symposium was an awesome event, and I hope the success it had this year is dwarfed by future years.

The opening keynote was Randy Mott, Executive VP and CIO of HP. Having the experience that Randy does, and the responsibility of that title for a $100+ billion company is quite impressive and I thoroughly enjoyed his talk. We viewed videos of their Wynyard and Houston data centers and witnessed the implemented technologies set to help achieve their goal of saving 1 billion kWh by 2011. Data Center Knowledge has a nice write-up of the facility -- and here is the video we viewed. The 360k square foot Wynyard facility opened in February 2010, uses 10% wind energy, has an 'excellent' BREEAM rating, and uses 50% less CO2 than comparable HP data centers.

The second talk I attended was Jim Borendame from Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo has a huge presence in Des Moines and I enjoyed Jim's IT-centric approach to going green. In 2005 Wells Fargo made a 10 point environmental commitment to itself and stake holders. With 61,000 physical and virtual servers, 61PB of storage and 8MW data centers, Jim has a lot to manage. IT metrics like those from IDEAS International helped green projects save enough money that they did not have to build a new data center -- even though they had board approval for a tier 4, $350 million facility. Other things such as 9:1 compression ratio using deduplication technologies, and moving to the latest VMware VSphere to enable more virtual servers also helped improve IT efficiencies and save money. Even with their impressive IT asset portfolio, it isn't enough to necessitate looking at data center containers. I couldn't resist asking, but even a company the size of Wells Fargo doesn't fit the business case for doing a container data center farm -- guess we'll leave that to Google and Microsoft for now.

Una Song from EnergyStar went over a number of programs and projects under way. covers information about Enterprise Servers and Data Center Energy Efficiency Initiatives. Data Center Knowledge interviewed Andrew Fanara, who recently left EnergyStar. DCK also has a post on the EnergyStar rating for servers coming soon. The Department of Energy also has a Industrial Technologies Program site for saving energy in data centers.

The conference saved the rock star for last -- Bill Weihl, Energy Czar at Google. Even though it was the end of a long day - everyone enjoyed Bill's speech, knowledge and enthusiasm. Bill had 10 lessons from Google as it relates to energy / green programs -- but a heavy focus was on #1 - We need cheap, clean energy. It is well known that Google has invested in solar and wind, as well as this crazy offshore data barges concept, which just baffles me. Stacey Higgenbotham interviewed Bill after the GreenNet conference and talks about the huge responsibility Google has to buy green power, and build efficient data centers.

Overall it was a very good conference to attend -- big names, big/timely topics, and good networking. I'll be back next year!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Green News Week

Being in between the GreenNet conference last week and the upcoming Heartland Green Up (which I am going to) -- I have a lot of green news in my browser cache. There were several interesting things at the GreenNet conference that caught my attention -- most notably the Google Budget Containment system. I've looked at air curtains before and have been intrigued...I think they give an attractive solution to most any data center and Google highlights the flexibility it allows them. The Greenpeace IT rankings were also announced at the conference, with Cisco taking the #1 spot. Jonathan Koomey also spoke on a panel at GreenNet about the Dematerialization opportunity.

I also caught a Seattle Xconomy story last week about Cisco and a Verdiem, an energy management software company teaming up. Through the Cisco "EnergyWise Orchestrator" brand they will market Verdiem software for PCs and networked devices. I still think that 'one' of the Cisco acquisitions in 2010 will be related to their building management / EnergyWise division.

Another green story last week was from the U.S. Green Building Council -- saying that they were selected to help empower a new generation of green building student leaders. At the Clinton Global Initiative University annual meeting the USGBC and others were called to help students jumpstart their careers in green building and sustainability through the USGBC Student program. At the conference all attendees were asked to make a commitment to action, a comprehensive, formal plan to address a specific problem around the world, in their community or on their campus.

An interesting item I ran across in my neck of the woods was the Eco4 Partners project for Moss Green Urban Village. The project is developing 170 acres of land in Iowa City, Iowa as a 'green' office and research park, allowing developers to apply for tax increment financing. The most cost effective energy saving and green technologies will be used -- shooting for near Net Zero in energy usage. Buildings will use 60% less BTU's per square foot than a conventional office building.

This coming Wednesday at The Heartland Green Up conference in Des Moines I'll learn about green lessons learned at HP and Oracle, as well as efficient data centers at Wells Fargo and MidAmerican's wind energy program. I'm also going to try and attend the track with Kevin Monson and Tom Struve, talking about the ACT data center in Iowa City that achieved LEED platinum status. It should be an awesome event!