Google Data Center Efficiency Best Practices

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Google Data Center Efficiency Best Practices

Power Usage Effectiveness and Its Importance for Data Center Power Consumption

Power Usage Effectiveness or PUE is the measurement of energy usage efficiency of a computer data center. The company monitors and calculates its full fleet of data centers all around the world and it does this not only during colder seasons but also throughout the year. Doing calculations, the company counts all sources of overhead (Google Data Centers, n.d.b). The PUE metric is provided by The Green Grid Association – the union of utility companies, facility architects, technology providers, policy maker, and finally users with the goal to raise the resource efficiency of information technology in data centers all around the world. The PUE is important as the start for efficiency improvement because it can help operators and owners of data centers to understand the efficiency of both existing and new data centers better, and improve them, making better decisions in regards to them (Avelar, Azevedo, & French, 2012). PUE is the ratio of facilities to IT equipment energies: PUE = (Total Facility Energy)/(IT Equipment Energy). Here, facility energy means the energy of the data center, and equipment energy is accordingly the energy consumed by the equipment that manages, processes, and stores the data. The value of PUE can be from 1.0 without a top bound, but the perfect index would be 1.0 (Avelar, Azevedo, & French, 2012), so this is what companies should strive for (Avelar, Azevedo, & French, 2012).

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Five Method Recommended by Google for Reducing Power Consumption

To reduce the consumption of power, Google provides next five recommendations:

Calculate the PUE: by this, one can monitor the effectiveness of data center, specifically, to understand where energy usage can be reduced (e.g. power distributing and cooling) and used for the better computing.

Operate the airflow: the company recommends minimizing the mixing of cold and hot air with proper containment.

Regulate the thermostat: customers can save more energy if they control the temperature of the facility. The fact is that equipment can work well until 80 degrees instead of conventional 70 degrees (Google Data Centers, n.d.a). If the customer also uses economizer at the facility, it would give even better result of the data centers efficiency.

Use free cooling: using different kinds of chillers for cooling the data centers can cost much energy. This is why the use of natural or free cooling like large thermal reservoir or evaporating water will save an additional amount of energy for data centers.

Implement the optimization plan of power distribution. Datacenter owners should eliminate power conversation steps as much as possible. Each conversation step takes the additional energy for the converse. With that, customers can easily save additional energy (Data Centers, n.d.a).

How Data Center Power Consumption Relates to Global Greenhouse Gases

Worldwide Internet is estimated to consume from 1.1 to 1.5% of the global use of electricity (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2014). This leads to the high level of greenhouse gases that increases annually from 70 to 90 large coal-fired power plants (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2014). That amount represents about 500 megawatts of power consumption (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2014). If the industry continues to grow as it is expected, the use of energy by data centers and related emissions of greenhouse gases will increase too. The experts of the industry find it difficult to publish calculations of the potential growth rate, but the 2020 report of the SMART, which is one of the most respected studies, provides forecast that data center emissions will continue to increase by 7% per year until 2020 (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2014). While the number of researches, predicting that societal carbon emissions will significantly reduce, increases, data centers continue to bring the real and increasing influence on climate. Such organizations like the Uptime Institute, the Green Grid, the US Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency work on the reduction of data center power consumption. Specifically, they identify best practices, issue guidance, and finally, develop standards of energy efficient efforts implementation. This strategy can reduce data center power consumption both in the USA and globally (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2014).

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Where the Data Center Power Consumption Would Remain Greater: In Developing Countries or in Developed Ones

Data center power consumption is expected to be bigger in developed countries as they have a greater industrial potential and thus, power consumption demands. Additionally, developed economies continue to improve their industrial capacities so they will not only keep the high level of the consumption but also enhance it with the time.

Why Should the Company Share Its Technology of Reducing Data Center Requirements with Other Companies

When one company develops an effective strategy of reducing its data center power consumption, it undoubtedly makes it more competitive on the market because that company can provide a better quality of network. In addition to that, this strategy positively affects global emissions of greenhouse gases, which is helpful for the worlds ecology and beneficial for the company, as soon as it attracts more consumers and sponsors. Financially and commercially, it would be more profitable for the company, which owns such kind of technology, if it does not share the technology with competitors. However, in relation to global ecology, to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, it would be better if the company introduces the strategy to similar companies. This explains with the size of positive influence on the emission. For instance, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple succeed in solving technical efficiency problems caused by energy consumption, but they represent only 5-7% of the global rates (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2014). As it might be assumed, such influence is small and it might be even inefficient in the scope of the planet. However, if these companies shared their strategies, more companies would be able to share the experience. Together, big and small companies would have a bigger influence on the reduction of greenhouse gases emission.

Governments Involvement in the Regulation of Carbon Emission

Governments involvement in business and manufacturing might more likely bring a negative impact on companies production. However, if there is no control at all, some companies might work without caring about carbon emission at all. Implementing rigid quota of carbon emission can slow down the process of manufacturing, as it would often be a restrictive circumstance. Instead, the government can stimulate companies to use the most effective technology in relation to the issue. In that case, the government would not restrict companies but encourage them to improve their strategies. As a result, the data center industry will develop and carbon emissions would be minimized.

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Summary and Importance of the Case

Normally, data centers use great amount of energy, which might result in inflated costs for both the company and its consumers (Google Green, 2011). Thus, the overuse of energy can cause greenhouse gas and carbon emissions. In order to improve both data centers performance and its outcomes for the worlds ecology, companies should implement the proper strategy of reducing negative outcomes of data center power consumption, as Google did. However, companies should unite their powers for this case because only together they can provide the most effective and positive influence on the problem of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. Governments can also use their power to motivate companies to share experiences, as soon as the issue of ecology stands under the business. The case is significantly important, as it can fix several issues at once: optimize power consumption, improve the quality of produced services, and lower negative impact on ecology.


To improve their performance, data centers should look up for companies that have already succeeded in energy efficiency policy. The Power Usage Effectiveness metric can crucially change the results of companys activities. Companies should pursuit reaching the value of PUE close to 1.0 (Avelar, Azevedo, & French, 2012). It means that amounts of Total Facility Energy and IT Equipment Energy and the data center works 100% effectively (Avelar, Azevedo, & French, 2012). To reach that, data centers should focus on the quality of cooling system components, power delivery components, and other components. In addition to that, the attention should be paid when choosing supplemental and IT equipment like monitors and KVM switches, and network, storage, and computing equipment accordingly (Avelar, Azevedo, & French, 2012).

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The proper organizational policy of the company is undoubtedly the right choice for its resulting performance from the financial and qualitative perspective and in respect of global ecological outcomes of data center strategy. Successful companies in the USA and Europe have already implemented the most effective technologies in their data centers, which already gave its positive outcomes for productivity. As those technologies also bring positive effects on ecology, which now is one of the top issues of overall concerns, all small and big, developing, and developed companies should unite their forces to general benefit of the world.

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