Reducing Datacenter Power Consumption

The early architects of the Internet could never have anticipated that it would one day consume four percent of the North American power supply. Since the Google Boom, data center expansion and relocation has sprinted to keep up, applying pressure on an already-taxed energy grid.

When faced with power bills that dwarf their IT hardware costs, some companies have relocated to sources of cheap power, while others have looked for green energy solutions to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprints.

The crunch reached critical proportions in September 2005, when Google datacenter engineer Luiz Andre Barroso wrote, "The possibility of computer equipment power consumption spiraling out of control could have serious consequences for the overall affordability of computing, not to mention the overall health of the planet."

Shortly thereafter, Google began constructing its new datacenter in rural Oregon, strategically located between cheap hydroelectric power generated by the Grand Cooley Dam and a fiber-optic broadband infrastructure paid for by an investment of Oregonian tax dollars during the dot-com boom of the 1990s. Google has more than 1 million servers and has been steadily adding 300,000 to 400,000 per year. Its datacenter in The Dalles, Oregon consists of two buildings, each about the size of a football field, and two four-story cooling plants. Google found the perfect datacenter location on the Columbia River in Oregon, and soon was joined by other Internet data giants like Yahoo! and Microsoft.

Meanwhile, the green solution has been implemented by companies like CityNAP in San Antonio, an Internet hub as well as a datacenter, which serves as a platform for companies like AT&T and Time Warner Cable. CityNAP, founded in 2006 by Silicon Valley veteran Frank Robles, became the first green datacenter in Texas by purchasing all of its power from wind energy, eliminating its strain on the power grid.

Industry giants like IBM have also started to think green, offering datacenter solutions that conserve energy and reduce costs while increasing performance. Sensing that green is a looming issue in the next generation of computing, IBM is marketing its servers and data center solutions to company managers who want to save the environment as well as their money.

Top 10 Most Expensive Data Center Cities (by operating costs)

1. New York, NY $14.1 million
2. San Francisco, CA $13.8 million
3. Oakland, CA $13.3 million
4. Boston, MA $12.7 million
5. Detroit, MI $12.6 million
6. Chicago, IL $12.4 million
7. Philadelphia, PA $12.3 million
8. Cherry Hill, NJ $11.9 million
9. Minneapolis, MN $11.8 million
10. Buffalo, NY $11.6 million

Top 10 Cheapest Data Center Cities (by operating costs)

1. Sioux Falls, S.D. $9.7 million
2. San Antonio, TX $10.3 million
3. Ames, IA $10.4 million
4. Tulsa, OK $10.5 million
5. Des Moines, IA $10.5 million
6. Omaha, NE $10.5 million
7. Colorado Springs $10.7 million
8. Albuquerque, N.M. $10.8 million
9. Denton, TX $10.9 million
10. Champaign, Ill. $11.1 million