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On The Day the Gmail Died…Is Gmail Greening Email?

September 2, 2009
Solar-Powered Server Farm in Israel

Solar-Powered Server Farm in Israel

Today everyone is being affected by Gmail’s server problems – as of July, 146 million people use Gmail every month, and the Twitter, Facebook and blogospheres are on fire talking about how the server glitch is impacting communication.

But let’s take a step back for a minute. 146 million people. With 2GB or more of space. That’s a looooooooot of gigabytes. And even though it’s virtual, it takes a lot of energy and physical space to deal with that much memory. How does Google do it?

Just like there are ag farms and wind farms, big data centers have server farms – huge swathes of land with thousands of servers that feed our insatiable desire for data. These are getting more and more attention for the size of their carbon footprint and other environmental impacts. Keeping the servers running 24 hours is one shot of energy, but it’s keeping them cool that really sucks the juice.

But technology is often the solution for the problem of technology. More after the jump on  a couple of cool data-center projects.

Iceland was promoting itself last year as a great spot for data centers – largely because of its environment. With geothermal heating and natural wind cooling, the heavy costs of maintaining server temperatures could be reduced. Who knows where this push is in light of Iceland’s economic meltdown, but interesting thinking nonethelesss.

According to CTOVision, Google is playing the role of industry leader (I know, same old, same old!) on this front. It explains:

A perfect PUE ratio would be 1, this would indicate that all of the energy used by your data center is used only to drive the IT.  Nothing to cool it, light it, etc.   Since that is about as realistic as perpetual motion, Google has set the standard of excellence right now at a PUE of about 1.1….According to Google, their data centers are roughly 2x as energy efficient as other data centers (imagine one you run yourself, Google’s will be twice as energy efficient).  In addition to their energy efficiencies, they also recycle the water used for cooling their components.  Re-using their cooling water makes Google’s data centers even more environmentally friendly – and better re-use of water is another one of Google’s priorities as they evolve their data centers.

And Earth2Tech reports on an Israeli company Distributed Solar Power Ltd that is using solar power for data centers. Its first client, an Israeli telecom hardware company, slashed its three-quarter million dollar energy bill by a third.

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