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US Data Centers Wary of Sharing Energy Data With Feds 101

1sockchuck writes "The EPA has been seeking at least 100 data center operators willing to share data about their energy usage to help the government develop an Energy Star program for data centers. Thus far, only 54 data centers have signed up, which suggests that few data center operators are eager to tell the government exactly how much energy they are using. The EPA issued a report to Congress last year on data center power usage, and is already developing an Energy Star program to rate servers. Can a program designed to rank the energy efficiency of appliances and computer monitors be a useful tool in addressing the enormous energy consumption of data centers?"
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US Data Centers Wary of Sharing Energy Data With Feds

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  • !evil, just no trust (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Chicken04GTO ( 957041 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:52AM (#23504492)
    Some people dont share data with the gubmints not because they are evil but because they dont trust the government. Rank the efficencies of data centers? Cant the people who own/run the energy centers do that themselves? You know, read the labels on the devices and such?
  • Few? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:56AM (#23504544)
    So 54 data centers responded out of "over 100"? That seems pretty good to me. How many of the rest just didn't know how much energy they used, or couldn't be bothered to look it up?
  • Re:Few? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:03AM (#23504640)
    saddly i know the power useage of one data center that would not be reporting in.. lets put it this way.. based on the farm usage they turn off power to other floors in the building.. not to conserve power but because the main line coming into the building is their bottle neck
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:06AM (#23504680) Journal
    We should stop conflating energy consumed at fixed locations from the energy consumed by the transportation sector. We have enough energy in the form of coal, nuclear power, tar sands, wind, solar, cow dung and what not. Sure, there are problems and pollution and different costs and benefits for each of these sources. But the one big advantage they have is that, they don't make us dependent on fickle foreign powers in unstable regions. We are 100% self sufficient in the fixed-point-energy consumption sector.

    But it is a completely different story when it comes to the energy consumed in transportation. There is no viable alternative to gasoline for cars, diesel for trucks and kerosene for the airplanes in the near future. Nothing. And all the crude oil we import goes to transportation.

    The politicians are clueless dumb idiots who go through the motions of doing something, on the crazy logic, "we must do something, it is something so we are doing it".

  • Re:Few? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:21AM (#23504894)
    I think you're referring to reading comprehension skills, not math and reasoning as such. Flying in the face of /. norms, I read TFA again. There is no mention of how many data centers were queried, though their goal of 100 responses could be used to guesstimate. Also, it says the plan is 1 year old and the data centers need to compile 12 consecutive months of energy usage and submit it before June 1. How the 54 other companies compiled 12 consecutive months of data in 11 months is conveniently left out, but perhaps there will be more companies complying with the request closer to the deadline.
  • by natoochtoniket ( 763630 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:36AM (#23505102)

    The total energy used in a data center is just the sum of the energy used in the various component parts. The components include the various boxes of electronics, the power supplies, the lighting, and the cooling.

    Every data center operator is intensely interested in power consumption. The power and cooling cost real, serious money. Any reduction in that cost goes straight to the bottom line. And, we have finite power and cooling for the building, so if/when the needs of the various boxes exceed those limits, we have to do expensive and disruptive upgrades.

    If every component part (computer, network switch, ups, monitor, etc.) were labeled with its power and cooling requirements, data center operators would use that information to select equipment that costs less to operate. In the life cycle of a piece of equipment, the electricity to operate it is a big part of the cost. When we go to buy new equipment, we usually have to choose from among several different units that could fit the purpose. The numbers that determine the operating cost absolutely would be used during that selection process.

    A publicity campaign, like "Energy Star" could help us to paint the business "Green". But the numbers are what we really need to make rational business decisions.

  • by likes2comment ( 1021703 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:41AM (#23505204)
    Perhaps a lot of the datacenters are more leary of "homeland security" putting spyware, etc in their datacenter. Once you let the goverment in to take a look, who knows how much further they will want to go.
  • by EnOne ( 786812 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:44AM (#23505260)
    There are probably at least Two reasons that this was ignored 1) The form letter from the Government was ignored like unsolicited credit card application. 2) The data center in question needs their people to work on projects instead of collecting information for said Government.
  • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @11:06AM (#23505570)
    Our data center had a catastrophic failure last year when the generator test failed and the operators didn't notice they had no power until the UPS died 15 minutes later. Absolutely everything lost power, and we spent the day recovering systems from various messy states. The exception was our Tandem, used for our clinical system, which was kept alive by a series of D batteries powering the CPU. We used to make fun of those D battieries, but never again.

    In any case, our data center is part of a larger facility and while it's easy to report on overall power use for the facility, it's mixed in with so much else that it's hard to get a good estimate for power use by the data center alone. As we found out the hard way, the UPS wasn't adequate for downtimes longer than 15 minutes. We've since made a big push to improve the UPS and reduce the number of physical servers in the data center (switching to virtual whenever possible).
  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @11:08AM (#23505594)
    One place wasn't a dedicated data center. There were corporate offices of a handful of companies in addition to the one that owned the building. One of those companies ran their own small datacenter (100 machines or so) an the company that owned the building ran 2 (different departments). The amount of power their own used were estimated, and they just ran UPS's that ran over that. The company that ran their own datacenter also paid on an estimated basis of the total amount of power they used. Large portions of the building that were not associated with the datacenter were also on the UPS/Generator in the event of a power failure. They didn't track how much power per circuit was used and they didn't track how much each of those rooms used. They had a big, overall picture.
  • Here's Your Chance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FurtiveGlancer ( 1274746 ) <{moc.loa} {ta} {yuGhceTcoHdA}> on Thursday May 22, 2008 @11:28AM (#23505936) Journal

    OK /.ers, how would YOU categorize or classify data centers to provide a little more sanity|classification|taxonomy to this generic study? For example:

    Transaction Processing Center

    High Performance Computing Center

    Corporate Support Data Center

    Web Host or ISP Data Center

    Search Engine Data Center

    Have at it.

  • by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:11PM (#23507642) Homepage Journal

    Well, you're right for now. While we're starting to develop alternative fuels...let's try to get past the ECO-freaks out there, that won't let us drill for our own oil, in our country!! China is drilling in cuban waters just off the coast of FL...why the fuck aren't we drilling in the lucrative oil fields offshore of FL, NJ, CA...??
    I believe, it is because when the rest of the world is tapped out, there will still be quite a bit in "environmentally protected" areas that will be used to retain world superpower status long after everybody else goes back to riding behind horses.

    It's a long term strategy.
  • Re:Few? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:40PM (#23511678) Journal
    I know a guy who owns a laundromat. The city did something and connected to his fire sprinkler system for water in the project through the outside port that lets the fire fighter inject a chemical that make a foam suppressant into the system. I forget exactly what was being done but they had to fill water trucks up to hose the dust down and the alternative was running a temporary line that blocked his parking lot whihc meant almost no business until whatever was finished.

    After filing his taxes for the year, the IRS popped an audit and claimed he didn't claim all his income because for a laundromat of his size with X machines, water usage of Y amount would equal Z in sales. They have this down to a science. I guess courts use this sort of information to calculate income from coin operated machines and such too in divorce cases and other lawsuits.

    Anyways, I think the hesitation might be the government saying you used X electricity, you had to of made Y in sales. It would make sense from a perspective I don't think many people are aware of. The guy I know had to get something from the City stating that they used the line with permission of the facility owner in order to get out of the trouble of paying extra taxes. It could also be like you suggested and it is just too much of a hassle. But this story popped into my mind as soon as I read the summery.
  • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @07:50PM (#23512840) Homepage
    You can cherry-pick all you want. In the end, the US government over the past 40-50 years has been defined by policies that would be considered "conservative" in most parts of the globe.

    Much of the legislation you mention was either inevitable, the work of their predecessors, or had little to no impact.

    That said, even though I don't particularly like Bush at all, he has had a small number of bright moments. His most recent Veto of the $288 billion farm bill was absolutely the right thing to do, even though republicans and democrats alike overwhelmingly overrode the veto to let their pork-barrel projects go forward.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers