Reading Cronin’s Workshop (p.10) prompted me to review the other features and columns in this issue. You see, by tracing the history of the 7x24Exchange as it celebrates the 20th anniversary of its founding Dennis also traced the history of the uptime industry. Dennis correctly points out that he and others still face many of the problems that caused members of New York’s financial community to convene the Uninterruptible Uptime Users Group. Dennis writes, “We still discuss today many of the topics from these early meetings. Session titles included Calculating Ride Through After Loss of AC, Networking Three Telecom Sites, and the Effects of Harmonics.”

Sure enough, my review of the articles we’re publishing this issue confirm Dennis’s observation.

We have articles on reducing cooling costs, airflow management, automatic transfer switches, and managing infrastructure. The web is filled with Tweets and blogs that reflect the same preoccupations with energy and reliability that the UUUG newsletter reflected 20 years ago. Dennis does consign the issue of harmonics to the dustbin of history, but has anything else changed?

The answer is certainly yes. First the world has changed. Broadly, the nation is concerned with energy supply and cost in a more serious way than it was in 1990. Back then the nation had already managed to forget the oil shocks of the 1970s. Now, oil is not our only concern. Rolling blackouts in California and a huge blackout on the east coast shook the nation’s confidence in the electrical grid. In addition, concerns about global warming have caused many worldwide to rethink the proper uses of energy.

These changes have broad societal consequences that affect anyone running an energy-intensive operation.

The data centers have changed. The power and cooling demands of modern data centers have grown exponentially. Scaling up facilities to meet the demands of Moore’s Law has made them infinitely more complex to maintain and run.

The demands for uptime have increased as a result of a harsher regulatory environment, making the facilities even more-complex, and solutions such as virtualization mean that data centers require a greater level of sophistication to run than ever before. Clouds may mean fewer but more complex data centers. It has been a long time since I heard anyone discussing the cloud as a form of distributed computing, rather terms like private cloud have emerged. Isn’t that oxymoronic in some way. “Hey, hey, get off of my cloud,” sang Mick Jagger in the 1960s, but the cloud was supposed to be open to anyone who could join.

The UUUG newsletters suggest that many of the people who attended its first meetings are still active. However, UUUG is no longer the only game in town. Worthy organizations such as the Green Grid, DataCenterDynamics, the Uptime Institute, CFRT, and AFCOM share the stage. And they are necessary to help us understand the terms and concepts that have developed to help the industry cope with the complexity of data centers. In fact, some of these organizations exist primarily because of the usefulness of their metrics.

Where would we be without metrics and concepts such as LEED, PUE, Tiers, and EUE? Still in the world of ROI before everything got so complex, I think.