NEW YORK — Bill Weihl, Google’s green energy czar, told a group of data center operators here that some of them need to stop making excuses for not improving their facilities’ energy efficiency.
After years of secrecy around how its data centers operate, Google has now drawn the curtain to show how efficient its data center facilities are. But during a panel discussion at The Uptime Institute’s conference in New York today, some questioned whether all data centers should be cut in the same mold.
In particular, the question was whether the data center power usage effectiveness (PUE) of some businesses — financial institutions, for example — should be compared to those of search engines such as Google.
“Should a bank have the same PUE as a search engine?” Ken Brill, Uptime founder and executive director. “The answer is no.”
The reasoning behind it is that bank and financial applications require a higher level of uptime than search queries, and thus need more redundancy, which leads to lower efficiency. But Weihl questioned the logic.
“We actually have some Sarbanes Oxley requirements,” he said. “We’re not just a search engine company. We also run very reliable data centers that I think any data center operator here would be proud to run.”
Weihl later added that the discussion sounded like “people making excuses for why the EPA or DOE should not push hard for a standard because, hey, we’re different.”
“To me, not to be too combative, but that sounds like an excuse for not doing better.”
Currently the federal government is working on developing an Energy Star rating for data centers. Michael Zatz, the manager of the Energy Star commercial buildings program, sees the potential for different categories of data centers, but would prefer that those categories be defined by what kind of work the data centers perform, and not necessarily by what industry they’re in or how they identify themselves.