Energy Star for Data Centers: Don't Hold Your Breath

Energy Star for Data Centers: Don't Hold Your Breath

The EPA's Energy Star program has been a big success in greening computer equipment. But when it comes to IT infrastructure, the program has largely been a failure. Now news comes that Energy Star for data centers is faltering so badly, it may never come into being.

As I've blogged about previously, the Energy Star spec for servers isn't even close to being ready for prime time, even though it is expected to be released May 1. The spec won't cover blade servers, even though blade servers are the servers of choice for anyone interested in greening their data center, are the most energy-efficient of servers, and are the key for virtualization projects. Leaving out blade servers means that the spec will help very few data centers.

In addition, the spec only gauges the power a server uses when it's idle. But servers are rarely, if ever, idle. They're designed to be constantly running. So that part of the spec is of no use at all.

There are even more problems with the planned Energy Star spec for entire data centers. In fact, the problems are so severe, the spec may never come into being. In order to develop the spec, the EPA needs real-world data from data centers about power consumption. But Data Center Knowledge reports that data centers simply aren't cooperating. It notes:
More than half of the data centers that agreed to submit energy usage data to the Environmental Protection Agency have not shared any data, according to Andrew Fanara, the agency's liaison to the data center industry. The EPA's National Data Center Energy Efficiency Program wants to use the data to develop a model for a facility-level efficiency standard. Data center operators' reluctance to share data with the government imperils that effort.
Fanara was blunt about twhat that means. He told the DataCenterDynamics event in New York that "Unless people participate, we can't deliver this."

This is just a continuation of problems with the spec, notes Data Center Knowledge:
The program was initially scheduled to start last June 1, but was delayed when just 50 data centers agreed to take part. After additional appeals for participation, 242 data centers agreed to submit data and the program launched a month late. Companies agreeing to submit data included Microsoft, AT&T, AOL, 365 Main, Rackspace, Fidelity Investments, Lowe’s, New York Life and Boeing.

But eight months into the program, just 110 data centers have shared their energy data, and only about 85 of those have submitted complete data.
My guess: This spec may never happen. And even if it does, judging by the poor job done with the server spec, it may not be of much use to anyone.
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