Our Greenspace initiative is an umbrella for all of our environmental and efficiency programs at Rackspace and one of the key areas of focus within Greenspace is data center efficiency. In May of last year, I posted an article over on the about Rackspace joining an industry consortium called The Green Grid. The Green Grid was launched in February 2007 and today has over 150 members. The primary mission of GG is to advance energy efficiency in data centers around the world and as Rackspace is a big believer in running efficient data centers, it made a lot of sense for us to participate in this forum. We joined the group as a contributing member in March of last year and we’re proud to be one of the few hosting companies on the membership roster.
A couple of weeks ago, Troy Toman and I attended The Green Grid Technical Forum in San Francisco. This was the largest gathering so far for any Green Grid conference. In attendance were GG members, the press and industry analysts, governmental policy makers, end users, and members of other green energy constituencies. At this event, the GG presented a progress report of what we’ve been working on over the last year.
Here’s the punch line: There are no silver bullets for operating a green data center. In fact there is not even a good definition of what a green data center is yet. There is no one correct answer, no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and no simple technology solution to make data centers become magically efficient overnight. It will take focus and hard work to get more efficient but the good news is, as evidenced by the attendance level at the conference, that there are lots of folks working toward the goal.
The right answers to driving up efficiency, and the themes that were presented over and over at the GG conference, are the development and adoption of industry standard metrics and measures, best practices, and technologies. The old adage “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” was a common theme with any of the speakers at the forum. One of the big goals of the GG is to get to a standard methodology of measuring data center efficiency that can be used by operators to benchmark their facilities.
What is Rackspace doing? Rackspace is taking a common sense approach to data center efficiency and “green-ness.” We have come to realized that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and the only way to get more efficient is through lots of small wins. Here are a just a few of the things that we’re doing both with customers and behind the scenes to drive toward a more energy efficient data center:
- Implementing the measurement and monitoring recommendations that are coming out of The Green Grid forum.
- Looking for opportunities to replace old data center equipment with new, more efficient gear as replacements are needed.
- Experimenting with new technology, design principles, and process solutions to improve data center efficiency.
- Pushing our vendors to use energy saving technology within the equipment we buy on our customer’s behalf.
- Recommending that our customers use equipment that falls in the sweet spot of performance and efficiency.
- Developing virtualization and infrastructure services that are more energy efficient than the traditional dedicated hardware approach.
- Buying renewable energy where it makes sense. Rackspace does this through NativeEnergy.
We’d love to here what other companies, especially companies with data centers or large infrastructures are doing about these issues.