In my last column I discussed the net zero energy data center. While to some it may seem like an oxymoron or a punch line to a joke, however to one degree or another, it may become a necessity in the not too distant future. Nonetheless, today energy efficiency, as well as the energy usage by all data centers, continues to be an ongoing and high-profile target for environmental and sustainability groups, as well as the government. This can be seen in the ongoing saga of ASHRAE’s pending 90.4 Data Center Energy Efficiency standard, which is now in its fourth and final revision before it is finalized this summer.
By now, we are all fairly used to seeing ultra-low PUEs of 1.1 or less from the various web hyperscalers such as Google and Facebook, which use minimal or no electrical redundancy, custom built “no frills” servers, and a variety of ingenious “free cooling” designs. They have proved that they can still deliver high overall computing system availability by basing the redundancy and failover in the IT software architecture, rather than the power and cooling infrastructure of the physical data center. Of course for the enterprise, a non-redundant “N” physical infrastructure is a non-starter.