PTS: Blog

Data Center Energy Use

It can’t be denied that the amount of energy data centers consume is sickening and constantly growing on a daily basis, but the data centers themselves should not be held fully responsible for adhering to the demands of the consumer. Today’s society calls for 24x7x365 availability and the future for most companies lies in the hands of uninterrupted availability. For most data center technicians, their jobs rely on 99.99 percent availability and not saving on the electric bill. This fear of failure mixed with the high expectations of the end-user is what’s causing this massive surge of data center energy use.

James Glanz recently wrote a piece for the New York Times entitled, “Power, Pollution and the Internet.” Although his article lacks proof, it brings to light an important secret of the data center industry: data centers are gargantuan energy consumers. Personally, I think it was harsh for him to say corporations are wasting a good two-thirds of the energy they consume, because data centers for companies such as Facebook and YouTube need to be run around the clock.

Steve Dykes for The New York Times
INSURANCE A row of backup generators, inside white housings, lines the back exterior of the Facebook data center in Prineville, Ore. They are to ensure service even in the event of a power failure.

People don’t realize the vast amount of data it takes to allow them to watch a video on the internet through a website that is quite possibly hosting tens of millions of other users. Or how about that video game you’re playing on Facebook? And while we’re at it, how about your entire Facebook profile? All that data is stored for you in one of Facebook’s many data centers. They need to keep it accessible for you so you can play at anytime, anywhere.

So, who’s at fault? Can the answer be no one? We either need to accept the fact that data centers need the energy to meet the demands of the consumer or we, as consumers, must be patient and lower our expectations, but let’s face it, in the words of the mighty Queen, “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it NOW!”

In the end, aside from risking potential downtime by reducing data center redundancies or powering down servers when not in use, data center operators can look to energy efficiency improvements aimed at avoiding increased risk of downtime. PTS Data Center Solutions performs Data Center Energy Efficiency Assessments on behalf of utilities and data center operators. However, reducing the number of data centers and their sizable energy consumption is not going to happen in the near future.