How do you measure the value of your datacenter's work?

How do you measure the value of your datacenter's work?

Summary: Measuring the value of the work produced in your datacenter vis a vis the energy consumed is critical in evaluating datacenter efficency.


As I've said before, the biggest flaw in all of the datacenter efficiency standards and benchmarks is that they provide no metric for evaluating the actual work produced by the energy expenditure.  I can get a great rating on most benchmarks if I start turning equipment off; it reduces my energy budget and makes me look much greener.  And from that perspective there are energy management systems for the datacenter that pretty much do just that; shunting power where it's required and optimizing power delivery.

The Green Grid, purveyors of the PUE and DCiE benchmarks, have a solution for this, the DCeP benchmarking standard (Data Center energy Productivity metric). The simple mathematical expression for the benchmark is :

Useful Work Produced / Total Data Center Energy Consumed Producing this Work

So the goal is to evaluate the efficiency of the datacenter by measuring the amount of work that is being produced for the energy expended. The white paper that the Green Grid has produced goes into significant detail on measuring the quality of the work produced, which is the key to making this a viable, and valuable benchmarking metric.

The difficulty in actually producing this benchmark appears to be significant; the white paper describing this benchmark metric is over two years old now, and while it was a part of last week's Green Grid EMEA webinar last week, there still seems to have been little movement in getting this standard promulgated. What do you think it will take to make this standard work in your datacenter?

Topics: Storage, Data Centers, Hardware

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  • useful work?

    From whose perspective? Many of the applications in organizations are not useful, they are just holdover from a previous time when they were needed. Is that taken into account?
  • RE: How do you measure the value of your datacenter's work?

    Thanks for the post, David. I thought you might find this case study interesting, Logicalis worked with Conseco to develop a data center solution and this is the Conseco CEO's response: ?We bet the farm on virtualization,? Adams says. ?And it?s paid off beyond our expectations.?
  • RE: How do you measure the value of your datacenter's work?


    You make some excellent observations on data center productivity and the limitations of PUE - which is nothing more than a power distribution ratio. That the world has been mesmerized by PUE speaks volumes to its ease of use yet at the CEO level I doubt you will find few if any who know the PUE of even one of their data centers. Yet every CEO can speak volumes about past, current, and projected EPS (earnings per share). Why? Because EPS, along with a host of other earnings based metrics (headcount, capital deployed, facilities, even energy) are all relevant measures of productivity!

    The Green Grid is making significant progress on the DCeP metric with several meaningful proxies currently in review. Numerous government agencies and trade associations have expressed an interest in supporting further research in this area. A practical DCeP metric, suitable for certain types of data centers, may not be that far away.

    One area that does require clarification is the notion of ?useful? work. That really is something that each individual company will need to determine on their own. For some, streaming videos of a toddler biting a kid?s fingers may be valuable, while for many others mere access to such content should be blocked ? perhaps for the betterment of all. Therefore one has to assume that any ?work? being performed by processor, storage, or network has some approved purpose and hence value to the organization. So a tool that enables one to aggregate all such ?work? in a data center and divide by total facility power would deliver some semblance of a data center productivity metric. Increase that amount of ?work? per watt by deploying the principles of Energy Logic ( and one is well on their way to significantly improving data center productivity.

    The real fun comes when we then try to tackle disaster recovery and hot-sites.


    Jack Pouchet
    Director Energy Initiatives
    Emerson Network Power
  • RE: How do you measure the value of your datacenter's work?

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