Cloud

UK data center shows off live power-usage data

Custodian, a company maintaining data centers for colocation in the United Kingdom, is pushing its competitors to become more transparent about energy efficiency by posting live data on power usage effectiveness (PUE) at one of its facilities.

A chart shows PUE for Custodian’s Kent data center fluctuating between around 1.1 and 1.2 for the past day. On an annual basis, the figure comes in at 1.16, according to Custodian’s website.

The current and annualized performance beats the average (1.65) of the PUE figures that respondents reported for their largest data center in response to the Uptime Institute’s third annual Data Center Survey. That survey from the data center research group checked in with 1,000 data center operators worldwide in February-April of this year.

Custodian’s decision to show off its real-time PUE stands out because businesses of its kind — as well as public-cloud providers, and enterprises — have not generally been vocal about how much of their power gets used efficiently by core IT equipment.

That’s particularly true with real-time information, which weather and equipment load can sway. Switch, a colocation provider with data center infrastructure in Las Vegas, reports its best monthly and annual average PUE figures, but not real-time numbers.

Some companies operating their own large data centers are in the habit of regularly reporting PUE. eBay, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo have disclosed PUE numbers for their own data centers, for example.

Custodian’s facility in Kent appears to be more efficient than eBay’s data centers were in the second quarter of 2013, when eBay’s PUE came in at 1.52, according to the company’s Digital Service Efficiency dashboard. And it’s about on par with Google’s entire data center portfolio for the third quarter of the year, according to a page where Google reports PUE. Facebook’s data center in Prineville, Ore., currently is operating more efficiently than the Custodian data center, with an impressive 1.07 PUE this morning, according to its near-real-time dashboard.

Facebook wants other companies to publish numbers on PUE and other metrics for data centers. To that end, in April a Facebooker wrote in a blog post that the code for Facebook’s own dashboards would be open-sourced on the Open Compute Project’s GitHub page. It hasn’t shown up yet, but when it does, it could inspire more transparency when it comes to how efficient companies are with their power.

Custodian’s move could motivate data center operators to go in a similar direction or consider installing less power-intensive equipment. That’s the hope, at least.

“We believe that by introducing this transparent approach to PUE, other colocation facilities will be forced to re-evaluate how they operate,” Custodian’s chief executive, Rowland Kinch, wrote in an email to VentureBeat.

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