Green Data Centers

When asked about making our data center a green data center, my friend and coworker Terry Bradshaw always responds with:

“Sea foam or forest, you can have it in any color green you want.”

There really isn’t a way to make a data center green beyond painting it. Your corporation, your organization can go green. Your data center can’t. You can certainly make it more green (or, rather, less not-green) by making it more efficient. But no matter how efficient it is it’ll still be a power-hungry room stacked full of metal boxes made via environmentally-unfriendly techniques, each filled with toxic chemicals and requiring hazardous waste disposal techniques when their lives are over every few years.

Virtualization can certainly improve things, by making a bad situation into one less bad by reducing the amount of machines. In turn that reduces all the rest of the problems. It also reduces the need for a different kind of green: money. Which is really the reason organizations “go green” with technologies like virtualization. They may say that they want to have a green data center but they really just want to spend less money — a perfectly good reason all by itself. And unlike many other ways a corporation can choose to spend less money, virtualization actually does do some good in the end, beyond the bottom line.

3 thoughts on “Green Data Centers”

  1. Bob,

    I’ve often thought the same thing myself. I’m incredibly tired of industry mags talking about the green datacenter. As one of the leaders of our local VMWare User’s Group, I laughed until I cried when someone suggested we waste have this topic at a future meeting. Consolidation is great and saves on resources, but spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a “green initiative” will only make you slightly more green and will likely have decommissioned a ton of equipment that has to be disposed of.


  2. I concur. The best we can do is become more efficient. Even then, we create a ton of waste in “updating” to “greener” hardware. We still have to use electricity and lots of it. Consumption of electricity is not green in any way when you look at how we generate it.

    I applaud efforts to virtualize underutilized systems, lower wattage cpus, and more effective use of datacenter cooling (hot aisle/cold aisle).

  3. Consider sites that use in-state wind-power as their sole source of energy. These are greener than most…

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