The green data center, the EPA, Energy Star, PUE, and total cluelessness.

I’ve just been reading a post about the EPA’s new Energy Star rating for data centers. It’s astonishing when you see the EPA having this big a bozo attack.

The first item on the list is the use of PUE (power usage effectiveness) as the criteria for awarding the Energy Star rating (I have no idea what happened to the EPA’s EUE metric they were trumpeting just a few months ago). In simple terms, PUE is the total amount of power used by the data center vs the amount of power used by the IT equipment in the data center. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t take into account the actual amount of work being accomplished for that power, so it actually encourages the deployment of idle and underutilized equipment to skew the PUE metric for publicity and marketing purposes. Not very green at all.

PUE can be useful for evaluating the effect of changes made to a single facility, but it’s worse than useless for trying to compare multiple non-homogenous data centers. It’s so easy to skew that any comparisons are not only misleading, they’re downright dishonest as well.

The really astonishing thing is to hear the EPA Energy Star manager claim that the Energy Star rating didn’t have to take into account climate differences due to data center location because they didn’t have any statistical effect on PUE. This is the most clueless thing I’ve ever heard.

I’m sure all of these major companies that have located data centers in cooler climates to take advantage of free air cooling to drastically reduce electrical consumption required to cool the data center will be shocked to hear this (free air cooling circulates cool outside air to remove heat without any requirement for chillers). All of the massive power savings trumpeted in the news lately must just be a myth. Keep on mind, reducing cooling power usage reduces the overall power usage of the facility, driving down PUE.

Even for legacy cooling systems, cooler outside air increases efficiency. The larger the difference in temperature, the easier it is for the cooling system to dissipate or sink the waste heat. This means less energy involved in removing the same amount of heat.

To say that these techniques have no statistical bearing on PUE flies in the face of the laws of physics and just plain reality. This isn’t just some theory, it’s being done and it’s being proven out.

I wrote a week ago that this process was going to be a real circus and it’s nice to see them bearing me out. Alexandra Sullivan, EPA Energy Star manager, and the EPA as a whole get an en mass award for Data Center Bozos of the Week. The bulk shipment of multicolored wigs and red squeaky noses is on the way.

Call or email me or visit the SwiftWater Telecom web site for hype (and bozo) free green data center and cloud computing services.


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