From the EditorMore Power to You

Last month's issue kicked off what I hope will be an ongoing dialog on the topic of Green Computing. True, this topic is still not well-defined. (What is Green? If my car gets 30 miles to the gallon instead of 25, is that Green? Not that I have a car, mind you. I live in New York. We walk.)

It also seems as though every company worth its salt is trying to put its own Green stamp on its products or services. There's a good reason for this though, and it's why the topic appeared on our own cover last month—the potential is amazing.

We all know it's as much about generating revenue as helping the environment. The fact is, being eco-friendly has become a selling point that will yield real results. ("It's the economy, stupid!") If a car company can sell more cars by making them more efficient, great. In the end, the hope is that we can have a healthy economy built on a healthy and sustainable environment.

So how does this impact the IT professional? Dr. Jonathan Koomey, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and consulting professor at Stanford University, recently released a study estimating total power consumption by servers in the U.S. and worldwide. In 2005, datacenters (servers along with their supporting infrastructure, such as cooling systems) were responsible for 1.2 percent of the total power consumption in the U.S.—that's the full output of five 1000-megawatt (MW) power plants, at a cost of $2.7 billion. Worldwide, that cost soars to $7.2 billion (the full output of 14 1000-MW power plants). There is serious money—and power—to be saved, and much of that work can start inside the datacenter.

How do you plan datacenter capacity? How can capacity be adjusted to accommodate demand, without having to run at 100 percent at all times? (Hint: virtualization.) We monitor servers for network connectivity, memory usage, and so on, but who pays attention to power consumption? Are older servers consuming drastically more power than new machines? Is that increased cost greater than the cost of a replacement machine?

In the coming months, one of our resident experts, Dave Ohara (author of last month's article, which is now online at, will show you the work that is going on here at Microsoft with the construction of our own Green datacenters in Quincy, WA and San Antonio, TX, and how some of those questions are being answered. We'd like to hear how you're tackling these issues as well (or if you're choosing not to, tell us why). E-mail us at, or visit our blog at —Joshua Hoffman

Thank you to the following Microsoft technical experts: Tim Carroll, Omesh Desai, Steve Jenness, Sam Kroonenburg, Mutlu Kurtoglu, KC Lemson, Tim Mintner, Jim Truher, Buck Woody, and Sudarshan Yadav.

© 2008 Microsoft Corporation and CMP Media, LLC. All rights reserved; reproduction in part or in whole without permission is prohibited.