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Microsoft Wants To Nix Data Center Backup Generators 141

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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  • Re:If it ain't broke (Score:2, Informative)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @04:38PM (#41367001) Homepage Journal

    It uses a niche fuel source

    RTFA, Hell read the fucking summary. It uses natural gas. Not exactly exotic.

  • by Urza9814 ( 883915 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @04:55PM (#41367231)

    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?)

    They're not just replacing it though; they're flipping it. The primary power source will be on-site generation, with the backup being the grid. So reliability becomes less of a concern -- the onsite system is running constantly, meaning any faults will be found pretty quickly and it'll drop to grid power while you troubleshoot those. Meanwhile, the only maintenance they need to worry about on the backup system is a couple wires and the actual switching system. It's not like a diesel backup system where you have to run it every couple months anyway.

    This seems like it would be a lot more reliable than the usual system, even if their new natural gas generators aren't. Because you'll never have a situation where you go to switch to backup only to discover some part on the generator broke while it was sitting idle.

    Of course, they're going to end up spending more money on manpower to keep their local generation systems maintained, since they'll be running all the time -- which makes me wonder if that's what would really be driving any improved reliability.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.