Many businesses like to talk about the energy efficiencies of their datacenters, but it is really rare that someone gives real details of what they've done to actually hit the energy efficiency goals. Major vendors of datacenter hardware are always willing to talk about the wonderful achievements they've made with their new datacenters and how energy efficient everything is, but given that it's coming from the vendors of the hardware, we generally need to take their claims with a grain of salt. Other vendors, building big datacenters, often consider details of these projects as trade secrets and talk about them in only the broadest terms.
But with eBay's announcement of their new datacenter, covered today in detail by Heather Clancy, eBay's Dean Nelson, Sr. Dir., Global Datacenter Strategy, makes a very upfront statement that eBay built this new datacenter with a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating goal of 1.4. In these days of press announcements from companies announcing their new datacenter plans with PUE targets of 1, the realistic goals set by eBay, and the ability to achieve that goal is important for the datacenter business.
With power being their biggest operational cost, eBay believes they will achieve a 30% improvement in efficiency over their previous datacenters, a number that goes a long way towards justifying the $287 million cost of the new facility. But most importantly, eBay got this improvement, it seems, not by using any secret squirrel proprietary technologies, but by proper design and the implementation of proven technologies, ranging from in-row cooling, to hot aisles, to taking advantage of local environmental conditions. On-demand power and cooling management software ties together all of these pieces into a single, energy efficient datacenter implementation.
eBay built the datacenter that met their needs of high-availability and high redundancy, with a practical target goal for energy efficiency, left themselves room for growth and for the implementation of new technologies, and did it quickly and efficiently without feeling the need to take any risks on proprietary technologies (which make sense when you realize that with transactions worth, on the average $2000 happening every second of every day "risk adverse" is a motto).
The most important take-away from this, if I may quote Dean's blog, is "The point is you can be resilient, efficient and cost effective if you set your mind to it from the beginning."