Lawyer Bait

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Google's Data Centers use 26 Megawatts - What's the fuss?

In the past 24 hours there has been a ton of press about Google's announcement that they use 26 million watts of electricity. Put another way, that is 26 Megawatts, and put another way, what is all the fuss about over 26 megwatts?

Is it that they ONLY use 26 Megwatts?
It it that Google is so efficient that they run this gigantic brand on such a small amount of electricity?

That has to be it, because folks, 26 megawatts in the data center business is a medium size operation.

Just for comparison's sake, Vantage data centers is building a campus twice that size in Santa Clara. Digital Realty Trust has a project in Dallas that is 4 TIMES that size to service clients. Bytegrid Holdings LLC has a 9.6 megawatt facility about one third the size of Google's entire operation. Just sayin'.

What I also have yet to review fully is the carbon footprint. It was mentioned in another, better,  article that they get 25% of their electricity from renewable sources. Not LOW CARBON sources, but renewable sources. The thing I have paid attention to for years is what I call the carbon chain - what is the carbon footprint from start to finish on a project, and then the impact on an ongoing operational basis. And I'm sorry buying a carbon credit doesn't count. That's like buying recycled paper with Monopoly money.

It mentions that Google builds their own facilities. What about the carbon it takes to manufacture the steel, the concrete, the copper, and other raw materials used in a facility? Then there is the transportation. How many trucks filled with diesel are trucking in heavy loads of new equipment that was produced from scratch and had to source the raw materials, and you get the picture.

Why not re-use a facility as a rule vs build new? Why not cap the radius of transport of newly manufactured goods to 100 miles or less? Why not look at the whole impact and subsequent carbon footprint and measure and improve that? Just sayin'...

Still, great numbers by Google.

And a side note to Noah Horowitz at the Natural Resources Defense Council who  '...cautioned that despite the advent of increasingly powerful and energy-efficient computing tools, electricity use at data centers was still rising, as every major corporation now relied on them. He said the figures did not include the electricity drawn by the personal computers, tablets and iPhones that use information from Google’s data centers.

“When we hit the Google search button,” Mr. Horowitz said, “it’s not for free.”

Trying to link energy usage of other corporations, personal computers, and iPhones to Google's numbers is like blaming a person's alcoholism on the fermentation process. It's a stretch at best. And what are you going to do to stop this reckless usage of the most efficient data center footprint on the planet, stop Googling? Didn't think so. Me neither.

Nothings free, but this is data that shows if we are going to search and want to be green about it, Go Green, Go Google.