Greenpeace: Power companies are the biggest impediment to a low-carbon Internet

Just published on 451 Research (subscribers only)

Environmental group Greenpeace recently released its latest take on the ecological impact of large datacenter operators. In Clicking Clean: A Guide to Building the Green Internet, the organization asserts that while there continue to be some laggards among the pack of large datacenter operators, many have taken decisive steps to improve their environmental stewardship. 

In a clear switch of emphasis, Greenpeace reserves the bulk of its criticism for what it describes as a group of monopolistic utilities. The group says these utilities are still not investing sufficiently in renewable energy generation, or creating the kinds of tariffs to incentivize datacenters to use more renewables. Greenpeace devotes less attention to the fact that the relationship between datacenters and utilities is shifting, in some cases dramatically, with implications for renewable energy generation and use. (We examined some of these changes in a recent report).

Green Mountain shows ‘Fjord thinking’ with low-carbon, efficient and resilient facilities

Just published on 451 Research (for subscribers only)

Colocation datacenter operator Green Mountain Data Centre has two facilities in Norway. Its first facility, DC1, close to Stavanger, Norway, received a Tier III Tier Certification of Constructed Facility from Uptime Institute (a division of The 451 Group) in Q2 2015. The site has been operational since 2013, and its customers include Norway’s largest financial services company. The facility is notable for being built inside a former NATO munitions store. Other innovations include the use of seawater cooling and hypoxic fire suppression.

Early Adopter Snapshot

Many new datacenter builds attempt to accommodate the often competing ambitions of energy efficiency and resiliency. The balance for colocation facilities is even harder to achieve, with customers often demanding high levels of resiliency while mandating PUEs and operational costs commensurate with extreme energy efficiency. Green Mountain appears to have managed what few others have, thanks to the site’s history as a NATO munitions store and the availability of cheap, reliable and low-carbon hydropower. The addition of seawater cooling helps to further reinforce the facility’s green credentials.

Is an entirely liquid cooled datacenter possible?

HP thinks so. They don’t have any specific product plans but they talked me through how their existing Apollo 8000 high compute server system could be adapted to cool networking equipment and potentially eventually storage.

Here’s an excerpt from my report.

“Nearly a year after the launch of its liquid-cooled Apollo 8000 server, HP reports strong interest in the system from HPC facilities, as well as some service providers. The company declined to provide specific shipment numbers but notes that it has a healthy pipeline for the 8000. However, HP believes there needs to be a significant readjustment in the budgeting process for datacenter projects – to reflect the capital and energy-efficiency gains from using direct liquid cooling (DLC) – before the technology becomes more widely adopted.

The company is also considering how to apply its take on DLC technology to its networking and storage systems, as well as those of its partners. This would help overcome one of the roadblocks to greater DLC uptake: although DLC technology has the potential to eliminate the need for mechanical air-based cooling for servers, facilities still require some perimeter air cooling for networking and storage systems.”

451 Research clients can get the full report here:

HP envisions the entirely direct liquid-cooled datacenter

Heading to Open Compute Summit

Am looking forward to attending my first Open Compute Summit in San Jose, California next week.

Aside from escaping the European winter for a week, the line-up of speakers looks great and it seems the event is morphing it one of the must-attend events (along with Green Grid US, Datacenter Dynamics London, Uptime Symposium US) in the datacenter calendar.

I am there principally on a fact-finding, and bridge-building, mission representing the European Commission-funded CoolEmAll project. The project is entering its final phase and we are keen to establish tighter links with industry initiatives such as Open Compute so that the research and technology developed in the project can be exploited by others, as well as adhere to industry standards.

I will also be interested to hear the panel discussion on the use of renewable energy in the datacenter which fits with the another EU project – RenewIT – in which 451 is involved. It’s still early days for RenewIT as the project only kicked off last November, but it’s good to see the use of renewable energy being debated at events such as Open Compute.

I will be writing up a number of reports for 451 Research on the event and will provide summaries and links to those in the coming weeks.

More momentum around direct liquid cooling in datacenters with Iceotope funding

Iceotope technology

Iceotope is a UK-based company I have been tracking since it first emerged in 2009, and then disappeared, before resurfacing in 2012 backed by Peter Hopton (of VeryPC fame). I had been aware of the concept of cooling datacenters with liquid rather than air – the technology dates back to the mainframe era – but it has largely remained a niche technology only found in high performance computing and supercomputing systems. It’s fair to say that Iceotope probably did more than other companies to turn me on to the idea that this could be a disruptive technology in enterprise datacenters too (although there are a lot of reasons why it might not do). So it was good to see this week that others have bought into its approach – to the tune of $10m – including datacenter giant Schneider Electric. I will be following up with Iceotope later this week and am also working on a Long Format Report for 451 Research on the 15 plus companies developing direct liquid cooling technology.

Microsoft imposes a carbon price on its datacenters and wider business

Here’s an excerpt from my latest report for the Dataenter Technologies Group at 451 Research:

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it would become carbon neutral by FY 2013. The company says it will achieve this goal through a three-pronged strategy: be lean, be green and be accountable. Practically, this translates into ongoing efforts such as improving datacenter energy efficiency, reducing air travel, improving the energy efficiency of company facilities, and investing in renewable energy and offset projects.

The company has also set an internal price for carbon and a chargeback mechanism for individual departments. The aim is to identify which departments create the most carbon and provide incentives to curb emissions. The scheme will be applied to a range of departments, including datacenter operations. It could have repercussions on the future siting of facilities. Rather than selecting areas with the cheapest energy (and tax incentives), Microsoft may also have to consider the carbon intensity of the utilities serving that area (something environmental groups such as Greenpeace have campaigned for).

For more go to 451 Research: Microsoft imposes a carbon price on its datacenters and wider business

Budapest Marathon Completed!

Despite atrocious weather in Budapest with howling wind and rain, I managed to finish the Budapest Marathon inside the 4.30 hours I was aiming for (4.26 actually!). Big thanks to the personal trainers who provided support and a motivational kick-in the pants over the last twelve weeks of training plus running with me most of the way around.

Would be great to raise some more sponsorship for Action For Children ahead of Byte Night – and anyone who wants to donate can do so here:

Budapest Marathon And Byte Night

Big thanks to everyone who has sponsored me so far but I need to raise more money for Action For Children. I am going to be running the Budapest Marathon (tomorrow!) and also taking part in the charity sleep-out event Byte Night on 8 October. I know that times are tough financially for a lot of people right now but anything you can spare would make a big difference to the charity.

Each year, at least 75,000 children and young people experience homelessness. One in three attempt suicide and 1 in 7 young runaways are physically or sexually assaulted (this figure rises to almost 1 in 2 after a week).

With your support, not only can the charity help keep thousands of children and young people off the streets and away from the risk of physical and sexual assault, it will also help them build better lives with secure accommodation, education and training opportunities.

Will Consumers Pay More For Green Products?

This is my latest article for Greenhotelier.org:

Installing an exercise bike connected to a generator in a hotel foyer so guests can pedal for their supper is one way to put green policies into action. But while this recent experiment at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Copenhagen Towers shows that guests are happy to expend energy to save the planet, there is still uncertainty about how far this commitment extends in fiscal terms.

Amid an unsteady economic recovery, and concerns over a potential double-dip recession, the hospitality sector along with other industries are looking for evidence that investment in sustainability makes business sense. Ultimately, everyone wants to know just how much customers care.

Finding an answer is not easy, though that hasn’t stopped plenty of organisations from trying. Consumer research specialists, such as Mintel and Ipsos Mori, have carried out numerous studies to track green spending, and the markets attempt to measure the financial performance of companies that meet corporate social responsibility (CSR) standards with the FTSE4Good Index and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).

Fore more go to: Greenhotelier.org

Coming Soon: Facebook The Movie

The rise of Facebook has sometimes played out like some convoluted Hollywood script so the news that a movie based on Mark Zuckerberg’s rise to fame is nearing release won’t surprise many.

The official website of the film – which will be known as The Social Network – launched this week. The fact that the film doesn’t have the word Facebook in the title may mean that the filmmakers have had to take some artistic license with the source material to avoid any unwanted attention from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s lawyers.

Mark ZuckerbergMark Zuckerberg

The film, due for release on 1 October, is based on Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding Of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg and former pop-sensation Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker – founder of Napster and one-time Facebook president.

But whatever deviations from reality emerge, the film appears to be in good hands when it comes to documenting political machinations thanks to a script developed by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin. The potential for irony in some of Zuckerberg’s pronouncements on privacy ishopefully too great to resist.

For more go to: eWEEK Europe UK