How Microsoft keeps its cloud green

Need to rightsize your data center for power consumption? Here's how Microsoft does it.

The Microsoft Global Foundation Services team -- that would be the division that runs the data center powering Bing, Hotmail, Microsoft Office SharePoint Online and Xbox Live -- has published a new white paper describing how it keeps server sprawl and the associated suck on energy efficiency from creeping into its operations.

The document is aptly named, "Rightsizing Servers to Achieve Cost and Power Savings in the Datacenter," and it really lays out detailed background, including how it interprets the published benchmarks both in the context of performance needs and power consumption. The authors note:

"The rule of thumb is that every watt you save translates to roughly $4-$5 over the typical life of the server. That's a ballpark number that obviously changes depending on the rates you pay for power. But that adds up when you have lots of servers."

Here are the paper's top take-aways:

  1. In order to rightsize your servers, you need to understand the workloads they'll carry.
  2. You need to look at file server performance carefully.
  3. Remember there is more to performance than simply speed.

The highly technical in the GreenTech Pastures can quibble about best practices, but if you have a lot of Windows servers humming along in your own infrastructure, it probably wouldn't hurt to know more about how Microsoft handles this task.

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