I was asked to moderate a panel yesterday in Palo Alto hosted by Agrion, an organization that hosts discussions and events related to sustainable development and cleantech (registration and membership required to access content, including recording of the session).
Our topic was data centers and energy efficiency, and the dynamite panel included representatives from eBay, Extreme Networks, NetApp, Oracle, and the Wired Real Estate Group.
We managed to cover a lot of ground in an hour-and-a-half; as you may know from attending events like this each topic naturally raises several promising lines of discussion, so it is hard to cover all of the allotted topics.
When it came to "matters of religion" we had some good debate about the use of air-side economizers in data centers (consensus view: they should be mandated in all new facilities but are hard to retrofit into existing ones), the move to high or extreme rack densities (it's going to happen, so designers and operators should plan for it), and data center efficiency metrics (PUE is good enough to evaluate the facility, and no one knows how we can get to an IT efficiency index).
In conversations both before and after the panel time, I talked to folks who recognized that industry leaders (such as our panelists and their companies) are way ahead of the curve compared to typical enterprises and other geographical regions of the US. It's almost becoming silly to talk about data center efficiency in Silicon Valley; we have to continue to take the message out on the road.
Finally, I talked to am environmental quality rep from a major IT company who said it is about time to talk about the use of IT to drive improvements in other areas of the economy. In other words, maybe data center and IT growth, certainly if implemented with energy efficiency as a priority, is on balance a great thing, if it helps us manage energy use better in other areas of the economy.
My personal thanks to Dean Nelson, Kevin Ryan, John Wallerich, Brian Day, and Franz Seidelhuber for a great discussion.