By Dileep Bhandarkar, Ph.D.
Global Foundation Services, Microsoft
Datacenters have captured the attention of the computing industry over the last few years, fueled mainly by the tremendous growth in cloud computing. Companies need to make sure these facilities and IT equipment operate as efficiently as possible. In a few months, I will have completed my first 100 (binary!) years at Microsoft. My initial work was on rightsizing and optimizing the servers that we purchased for our workloads. As I interacted with my colleagues in Datacenter design and operations, I realized that we had a tremendous opportunity to work together on server and datacenter designs. Our work on containers in 2008 convinced us that we had to think more holistically and optimize the entire solution.
Today, I would like to share a Datacenter Efficiency strategy brief that we recently published for our customers that covers the top drivers of datacenter total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI), how Microsoft “right-sizes” servers and optimizes power and performance, and shares our roadmap for future datacenter design. You can also watch a short video where I explain how Microsoft’s approach to thinking of the datacenter as the server and right-sizing servers to production environments results in lower costs and greater efficiencies.
This approach to achieving energy efficiency becomes even more important as our cloud infrastructure and services scale grows and cost competiveness is a key to success. We now holistically design our servers and datacenters together. A good example of some of the new direction we are moving in can be seen in the removal of the server fans from our latest free air- cooled ITPACs. To the casual observer this may seem like an increase in PUE because the IT power was reduced and the infrastructure power was increased. But the bottom line is that we get the same amount of computation for less total energy consumption!
Several years ago, we moved towards evaluating the Total Cost of Ownership in our server purchase decisions. Higher server power not only drives higher energy consumption costs, but it also uses a larger share of the expensive power delivery and cooling infrastructure. We have seen several examples where it has been prudent to increase the acquisition cost slightly if it results in overall savings in power related costs. Additionally, we continue to invest in datacenter designs that reduce our capital investment and operating costs.
I am especially excited about our new datacenter designs that are modular and more efficient. Our container experience has taught us that it is all about “containment” and not the containers themselves. For example, our Dublin datacenter uses outside air and hot aisle containment in “PODs” to achieve higher energy efficiency. We are continuing to evolve that concept in future datacenter designs that drive will drive even greater efficiencies.
We will continue to share our experiences and best practices as we into the next phase of improved datacenter efficiency.