Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Data-centers, what we don't know...

Recently opened (2009) Microsoft's data-center in Chicago was build with 2,400 tonnes of copper, 3,400 tonnes of steel, 26,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 190 miles of conduit (water ways/pipes)- housing over 2000 servers in first phase. Keeping everything cool is made possible with 7.5 miles of chilled water piping. Even with all its power saving techniques, the first phase of the data-center can scale to 30 megawatts of critical power requirement and millions of gallons of fresh water everyday.

Businesses and investors place a huge premium on where the facilities are located, picking locations close to supplies of power, water and other key ingredients. About 70 per cent of a facility's economics and running costs are determined before even one breaks ground.

Despite the high costs of labor, real-estate, etc. can you guess why the data-center was setup in Chicago?. Simple... any data-center needs enormous amounts of fresh water to cool and sustain operations at less than 12 degree Celsius, that too data-center needs a lot more due to the energy inefficient, bulky (but fast) PC based servers. The location (Chicago) being near to the five lakes ensures continuous water availability in addition to sub-zero temperatures in winter. Even though labor costs are high in US, Chicago in particular, no where else such a 'business-friendly-government' (read 'business-controlled-government') exist other than US to protect the interests of Businesses. Businesses can easily shift its operations to any place in the world where resources are plenty... whereas a farmer can't even dream such a thing.

If one data-center needs so much water and electricity to run - then you can imagine how much water and energy is required to run 1000s - California houses 1000s of data centers - no wonder US West coast is a desert - Reminds me of Fritz Schumacher's "Small is beautiful"

May be its time to stop blowing the trumpet whenever there is a so called "technological advancement" - every bit of so called "growth" has also its negative side - which we are either not aware of or choose to ignore. Again reminded me of "Appropriate technology" from "Small is beautiful". Including me many hailed the advancements in Bio-technology a decade back now the same is cleverly used by businesses to control world's food, clothing and medicine supplies.

All these Data centers are used by us the bloggers and surfers. Thus it is our duty to be prudent users of information exchange. There is already information overload everywhere for which again we are the ones responsible. We keep forwarding unnecessary mails and forwards to anyone and everyone increases unnecessary traffic across the globe.

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