Data centers, accusations and the fallout

As noted in the Times articles, sourcing energy for data centers can be critical for businesses, and some large data center operators are exploring new ways to provide onsite electricity generation.

Through a partnership with Bloom Energy, eBay recently unveiled plans for building fuel cell technology into data center design to deliver six megawatts of electricity for its Utah facilities.

Earlier this year in Phoenix, eBay launched Project Mercury consolidating equipment and taking advantage of free cooling. With guidance from The Green Grid on best practices for energy efficient and adaptable data centers, the project consolidated 11 centers into three locations while deploying tens of thousands of servers in a six-month period.

And it's not just the high-tech darlings like Google, eBay or Facebook that are making strides to develop green IT operations.

Vantage Data Centers in Santa Clara, Calif. took over an old, 18-acre Intel campus and turned it into a model of efficient data center operations. Taking a middle-ground approach with a scalable data center space, the company doesn't use cloud operations, deploying its own hardware and managing its own staff.

Design-software manufacturer Autodesk completed a major data center retrofit cutting its power consumption by 62 percent while saving $7 million annually in reduced energy and infrastructure costs, representing 15 percent of the IT budget.

The government, too, has got into the game of data center efficiencies. Not usually considered a nimble operation, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General announced plans to consolidate data centers into a single, energy efficient facility. Built in a scant 10 months, the relocated new facility will boast a new voice and data network, modular power systems and high density in-row cooling.

The U.S. Army also recently awarded its first cloud computing contract to several contractors (including MicroTech, Lockheed Martin Corp. and IBM) to help create its own private cloud. The five-year, $250 million contract will host virtual operating environments for new or existing applications and mobile data centers.

In a long-awaited specification update, the EPA's Energy Star program is rolling out a certification for servers that promises to help build the "green data center of the future."

And coming in the summer of 2013, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will use one of the world's most energy efficient data centers to handle complex renewable energy and energy efficiency research. NREL's High Performance Computer center is the largest supercomputer dedicated to clean energy research, using 3,200 powerful Intel Xeon microprocessors to crunch more than a thousand trillion floating point operations per second.

Small and medium-sized data center operators can also find ways to become highly efficient while reducing costs with these three essential rules. We found that understanding key energy management practices, such as determining the scope of the problem and setting practical limits, can help contain costs and align corporate IT and facilities.

Next page: Intel dunks data centers in oil