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Published on 5th March 2013 by Larry Vertal
In February, U.S. representatives Anna G. Eshoo and Mike Rogers introduced the Energy Efficient Government Technology Act focused on datacenters.
While the bill features provisions around government datacenters requiring annual evaluations of federal data centers for energy efficiency and requiring that federal data center energy usage data be publically available, as importantly it requires an update to a 2007 Report to Congress that has formed the baseline for data center energy efficiency in the U.S. generally.
I hope no one will feign surprise that there is again U.S. Congressional activity around datacenters. To do so would be a bit much given the events over the last year and the apparent lack of activity, as far as I know, by the industry and the organizations that represent it to take action on what seemed obvious.
The proximate cause of the activity can be attributed to the NY Times articles by James Glanz’s, which led with the September 22, 2012 “Power, Pollution and the Internet.” You will recall that in contrast to the industry’s view of itself these pieces were exposes of datacenter inefficiencies centered on operational behavior and energy the datacenter industry.
At light speed by government standards, on September 27th representatives Waxman, Eshoo and Rush fired off a letter to the DOE & EPA asking for briefing the issue.
That should have been a real wakeup call for the industry to move quickly to announce it had initiated real studies to clarify the facts.
Rather, like a Somnambulist resisting calls that the house was on fire industry folks protested to Mr. Glanz’s articles with a bunch of words which further highlighted their lack of data.
It was a re-hash of the same old stuff: point-examples of specific cutting edge data centers, references back to five and six year old studies talking about “the potential” savings that could be enabled by datacenters and intellectual gymnastics to use ’08 ACEEE report which was opaque on methodology that claimed 10:1 benefits information technology generally and apply it to datacenters. (re: “Datacenters Destroy Civilization and Your Dog is Ugly” http://www.datacenterdynamics.com/blogs/larry-vertal/datacenters-destroy-civilization-and-your-dog-ugly&u=2911 )
Am I wrong?
Perhaps there is some ossification in the industry orgs and the energy, excitement and dedication of the early days is gone. I sometimes think this, as the datacenter industry and its organizations don’t seem to be fulfilling a key area of stewardship in providing solid studies with transparent methodology and unbiased data to show trends and progress to justify industry claims.
There of course is a comfort zone in continuing to produce good technical content and metrics but is that enough to ask? Beyond that it is easier strut about talking about individual successes, making declarations and even re-publishing vendor marketing materials framed as curated but that doesn’t seem to satisfy the outsiders anymore.
Am I wrong?
And so we have the proposed Energy Efficient Government Technology Act that proposes a couple of things.
Firstly, it takes EPA to the woodshed for lack of activity in implementation of section 453 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 by requiring annual energy efficiency evaluations of federal data centers and by requiring that federal data center energy usage data be publically available.
Secondly, it will require that the government do an update to a 2007 Report to Congress that formed the baseline for data center energy efficiency since its release. This is something the industry and its organizations have been remiss in doing. And ironically, the most recent attempt to update the 2007 effort was funded not by the industry but by the New York Times in 2011.
The industry and its organizations have not acted so the NY Times did and now the Federal government will.
The government is here to help because the industry has not acted. The industry does not get to whine.
Am I wrong?