Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bursting the Green Myths - green and profitable

Many storage professionals would implement green practices within their data center but are prevented by a belief that this would either increase costs or impact performance. However the reality is that energy and space efficiency does not have to result in either.

Green House Data, a Wyoming based multi-tenant data center, the first data center solely powered from renewable wind power is a real world example of where a commitment to environmental responsibility can mean good business. In a recent conversation with the Shawn Mills, President and Co-founder, he was very quick to point out that his green data center is not more expensive than traditional data centers and that 95% of the potential new customer leads they receive originate because their green commitment.

The data center operates on 100% wind generated, renewable power. Currently they purchase power that originates from the local utility companies wind farm supplemented by the purchase of renewable energy certificates (REC). Their intent is to purchase there own wind turbines to support a 1MW demand with the local utility providing an assurance that renewable power will be available should the “private power grid” develop problems. A key requirement to ensure continuity and reliability of service

Being a green data center is more than just using renewable energy. It means driving efficiencies through all aspects of data center operations which Mills underlines by claiming his data center facility will operate at close to 60% greater efficiency that his competition. This is still a bit of a work in process with only 2000sq ft of a 10,000sq ft facility in operation.

The efficiency attributes being employed include:

1. Employing Water-Side Economizers to enjoy free cooling from Wyoming’s temperate 45.6° average annual temperature.

2. Cool directly at the source with Server Side Cooling.

3. Optimizing the cooling efficiency by enclosing the hot-isle (Hot-Isle Containment) and
capturing the exhaust heat.

4. Ground source heat pumps to provide up to 25% more energy efficient HVAC.

5. Modular scalability to manage growth and avoid over building and waste.

6. With 55 servers installed server virtualization is employed extensively.

The data center has enjoyed a steady growth since its first customer was secured in July of 2007. They now boast 25+ customers which according to Mills is growing at 3 to 4 new customers per month. EMC and Atrato provide the current 50TB of installed storage which is growing at a current rate of 2 to 3TB per month.

Their customers tend to be SMB/SME were the turnkey solution offered by Green House Data can fill the technology resource gap common in these smaller organizations.

When I asked Shawn what he considered to be his key competitive advantages he was unhesitant in identifying green and pricing. The green aspect we have talked about with their customers able to display the “Green Technology Coalition” label on their web site to display their commitment to lowering their carbon footprint. However it is the fact that Green House Data is price competitive in a highly competitive collocation and managed services market that bursts the myth that going green is cost prohibitive.

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