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Microsoft Wants To Nix Data Center Backup Generators 141

Posted by timothy
from the more-and-bigger-flywheels dept.
1sockchuck writes "Data centers operators often tout their diesel backup generators as a symbol of their reliability. So why does Microsoft want to get rid of them? Microsoft says diesel generators are 'inefficient and costly' and is looking at alternatives to supply emergency backup power for its server farms, including fuel cells powered by natural gas. One possible option is the 'Bloom box,' which both Apple and eBay are using in their data centers (albeit with biogas as the primary fuel). Bloom is positioning its fuel cells as a way to forego expensive UPS units and generators, using the Bloom box for primary power and the utility grid for backup. It's a pitch that benefits from the current low price of natural gas." (Microsoft would like to stop using so much water, too.)
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Microsoft Wants To Nix Data Center Backup Generators

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  • by DickBreath (207180) on Monday September 17, 2012 @04:21PM (#41366787) Homepage
    Just google for Microsoft Danger Sidekick [techcrunch.com].

    T-Mobile Sidekick Disaster: Danger's Servers Crashed, And They Don't Have A Backup

    Wow. T-Mobile and Danger, the Microsoft-owned subsidiary that makes the Sidekick, has just announced that they’ve likely lost all user data that was being stored on Microsoft’s servers due to a server failure. That means that any contacts, photos, calendars, or to-do lists that haven’t been locally backed up are gone. Apparently if you don’t turn off your Sidekick and make sure its battery doesn’t run out you can salvage what’s currently stored on the device, otherwise you’re out of luck: Microsoft/Danger is describing the likelihood of recovering the data from their servers as “extremely low”.

    T-Mobile Sidekick users have been suffering from a major outage all week, and that issue apparently hasn’t been resolved either.

    That said, in all seriousness. If they replace backup generators with some alternate technology. I hope that they actually make sure it is reliable first. And that it stays reliable over time. (eg, three years later, you suddenly need it, does it still work?)

  • If it ain't broke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Monday September 17, 2012 @04:27PM (#41366869) Journal

    There is nothing wrong with diesel emergency backup generators (keyword EMERGENCY BACKUP). They are easy to run and maintain, assuming you have a basic understanding of engines. Check the oil and fire them up every 6 months or so, plus a mechanic taking a good look once a year or so. They are large, so it easy for someone to get in there and replace parts. You can fuel them by getting diesel from any gas station in the area. And if they break, there are thousands of mechanics which can fix them, local to pretty much anywhere that has civilization.

    The "Bloom Box", on the other hand, is a specialized piece of equipment which only a few people know how it actually works. It uses a niche fuel source, not going to find that at a Shell station down the road.

  • by TWX (665546) on Monday September 17, 2012 @04:57PM (#41367257)
    Fuel cells may be more efficient, but the diesel generators are already in place.

    Existing Diesel engines can be set up dual-fuel too, where they may start using the diesel, but can switch to natural gas. That allows either municipal natural gas service lines to supply power, or tank, which can be fixed in place or installed on a truck to supply fuel. Some generators are probably built to start up and run on either fuel as well.

    That would allow at least two kinds of fuel to power the generator, with multiple delivery methods.

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