Stanford Professor Study on Power Services for Data Centers

An ever-increasing need for power services for data centers has slowed according to a new comprehensive study from Stanford Professor Jonathan Koomey.

Koomey’s study determined that the need for power services for data centers increased by only 36 percent between 2005 and 2010. This is a much smaller increase than predicted in Koomey’s original report he completed back in 2007. The original power services for data centers report predicted a more than 100 percent increase would occur in the five-year time frame.

“The rapid rates of growth in data center electricity use that prevailed from 2000 to 2005 slowed significantly from 2005 to 2010, yielding total electricity use by data centers in 2010 of about 1.3 percent of all electricity use for the world, and two percent of all electricity use for the US,” according to Koomey. The reduced data center power use was “driven mainly by a lower server installed base than was earlier predicted rather than the efficiency improvements anticipated in the report to Congress,” Koomey reports.

Koomey’s 2007 report, which was submitted to the United States Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been the basis for just about every subsequent discussions of data center energy usage.

Economic Slowdown and Power Services for Data Centers

Koomey believes that companies have been purchasing fewer servers than originally planned due to the economic slowdown during the last few years. He also cites that advancements of virtualization have allowed IT professionals to better utilize their existing server capacity and data capabilities.

The study minimized any possible impact of an effort in the IT industry to share information and best practices on energy efficiency. However, these are possibilities in the future as more companies move towards cloud computing and virtualization.

Google’s Role in Power Services for Data Centers

Arguably the most well known computer-related company in the world is Google. The company spoke with Koomey while conducting his research regarding their power services for data centers. While they are arguably the highest profile user of computer services, less than one percent of electricity used by data centers world-wide was accountable to Google’s data center operations. They did not, however, provide specific data.

The New York Times has been investigating power services for data centers with a specific interest in Google.

“Data centers’ unquenchable thirst for electricity has been slaked by the global recession and by a combination of new power-saving technologies,” writes The Times John Markoff. “The decline in use is surprising because data centers, buildings that house racks and racks of computers, have become so central to modern life…The slowdown in the rate of growth of electricity use is particularly significant because it comes in the midst of the biggest build-out of new data center capacity in the history of the industry.”

The five-year timeline for the study noted significant growth for the data center industry, in which Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple all built huge cloud-based data centers.