Chickens coming home to roost - server farms

I knew it was bad but I did not realize just how bad. From The NY Times:
Power, Pollution and the Internet
Jeff Rothschild�s machines at Facebook had a problem he knew he had to solve immediately. They were about to melt.

The company had been packing a 40-by-60-foot rental space here with racks of computer servers that were needed to store and process information from members� accounts. The electricity pouring into the computers was overheating Ethernet sockets and other crucial components.

Thinking fast, Mr. Rothschild, the company�s engineering chief, took some employees on an expedition to buy every fan they could find � �We cleaned out all of the Walgreens in the area,� he said � to blast cool air at the equipment and prevent the Web site from going down.

That was in early 2006, when Facebook had a quaint 10 million or so users and the one main server site. Today, the information generated by nearly one billion people requires outsize versions of these facilities, called data centers, with rows and rows of servers spread over hundreds of thousands of square feet, and all with industrial cooling systems.

They are a mere fraction of the tens of thousands of data centers that now exist to support the overall explosion of digital information. Stupendous amounts of data are set in motion each day as, with an innocuous click or tap, people download movies on iTunes, check credit card balances through Visa�s Web site, send Yahoo e-mail with files attached, buy products on Amazon, post on Twitter or read newspapers online.
Some numbers:
Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.

To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air regulations, documents show. In Silicon Valley, many data centers appear on the state government�s Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory, a roster of the area�s top stationary diesel polluters.

Worldwide, the digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants, according to estimates industry experts compiled for The Times. Data centers in the United States account for one-quarter to one-third of that load, the estimates show.
The scope of it:
Nationwide, data centers used about 76 billion kilowatt-hours in 2010, or roughly 2 percent of all electricity used in the country that year, based on an analysis by Jonathan G. Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University who has been studying data center energy use for more than a decade. DatacenterDynamics, a London-based firm, derived similar figures.
Emphasis mine -- two percent is a huge number. That is spent to house our data and power our online world -- this blog is hosted at a DataCenter in Florida. I love the people that work there, awesome service but I have never met them, never seen their facility. And a lot of those servers are just running and not processing -- they are comatose:
A senior official at the data center already suspected that something was amiss. He had previously conducted his own informal survey, putting red stickers on servers he believed to be �comatose� � the term engineers use for servers that are plugged in and using energy even as their processors are doing little if any computational work.

�At the end of that process, what we found was our data center had a case of the measles,� said the official, Martin Stephens, during a Web seminar with Mr. Rowan. �There were so many red tags out there it was unbelievable.�

The Viridity tests backed up Mr. Stephens�s suspicions: in one sample of 333 servers monitored in 2010, more than half were found to be comatose. All told, nearly three-quarters of the servers in the sample were using less than 10 percent of their computational brainpower, on average, to process data.

The data center�s operator was not some seat-of-the-pants app developer or online gambling company, but LexisNexis, the database giant. And it was hardly unique.

In many facilities, servers are loaded with applications and left to run indefinitely, even after nearly all users have vanished or new versions of the same programs are running elsewhere.
My last job before moving up here was with an Engineering company -- 50 engineers and an incredibly fun place to work. I would still be there today if I had not moved up here. I got there and started taking inventory and looking at file duplication. It was a rats nest -- they had a CAD license server running for an older versions of CAD than what they were running now. The file system was rife with duplication and frequently, someone would make a change to a file and someone else would submit another copy of that file (sans change) and there would be confusion over which was the correct version. First six months was pretty busy to say the least... This is an interesting article -- longish (six pages) but a good read and something that all IT people should check out.

April 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30    

Environment and Climate
AccuWeather
Cliff Mass Weather Blog
Climate Depot
Ice Age Now
ICECAP
Jennifer Marohasy
Solar Cycle 24
Space Weather
Watts Up With That?


Science and Medicine
Junk Science
Life in the Fast Lane
Luboš Motl
Medgadget
Next Big Future
PhysOrg.com


Geek Stuff
Ars Technica
Boing Boing
Don Lancaster's Guru's Lair
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
FAIL Blog
Hack a Day
Kevin Kelly - Cool Tools
Neatorama
Slashdot: News for nerds
The Register
The Daily WTF


Comics
Achewood
The Argyle Sweater
Chip Bok
Broadside Cartoons
Day by Day
Dilbert
Medium Large
Michael Ramirez
Prickly City
Tundra
User Friendly
Vexarr
What The Duck
Wondermark
xkcd


NO WAI! WTF?¿?¿
Awkward Family Photos
Cake Wrecks
Not Always Right
Sober in a Nightclub
You Drive What?


Business and Economics
The Austrian Economists
Carpe Diem
Coyote Blog


Photography and Art
Digital Photography Review
DIYPhotography
James Gurney
Joe McNally's Blog
PetaPixel
photo.net
Shorpy
Strobist
The Online Photographer


Blogrolling
A Western Heart
AMCGLTD.COM
American Digest
The AnarchAngel
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Babalu Blog
Belmont Club
Bayou Renaissance Man
Classical Values
Cobb
Cold Fury
David Limbaugh
Defense Technology
Doug Ross @ Journal
Grouchy Old Cripple
Instapundit
iowahawk
Irons in the Fire
James Lileks
Lowering the Bar
Maggie's Farm
Marginal Revolution
Michael J. Totten
Mostly Cajun
Neanderpundit
neo-neocon
Power Line
ProfessorBainbridge.com
Questions and Observations
Rachel Lucas
Roger L. Simon
Samizdata.net
Sense of Events
Sound Politics
The Strata-Sphere
The Smallest Minority
The Volokh Conspiracy
Tim Blair
Velociworld
Weasel Zippers
WILLisms.com
Wizbang


Gone but not Forgotten...
A Coyote at the Dog Show
Bad Eagle
Steven DenBeste
democrats give conservatives indigestion
Allah
BigPictureSmallOffice
Cox and Forkum
The Diplomad
Priorities & Frivolities
Gut Rumbles
Mean Mr. Mustard 2.0
MegaPundit
Masamune
Neptunus Lex
Other Side of Kim
Publicola
Ramblings' Journal
Sgt. Stryker
shining full plate and a good broadsword
A Physicist's Perspective
The Daily Demarche
Wayne's Online Newsletter

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on September 23, 2012 8:21 PM.

A new speed limit - unintended consequences was the previous entry in this blog.

I know what I want for my Birthday is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Pages

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 5.2.9