It's nice that Google says it has put an effort into making its datacentres more energy efficient, but the search giant's pledges won't mean much until it discloses just how many of the beasties it's actually running.
According to Google, its data centres are so efficient that your
own PC uses more power while waiting for a query result than it
does in processing that query. "Google-designed datacentres use
nearly five times less energy than conventional facilities to feed
and cool the computers inside," Google operations VP Urs Holzle
wrote. "Our engineers worked hard to optimise every element in the
datacentre, from the chip to the cooling tower."
I don't want to suggest these aren't worthy things to be
doing. But there's one piece of information that's still missing
from this equation: just how many datacentres is Google running?
Is this technology being deployed in a dozen locations? A hundred?
Google isn't saying, in line with its long-standing policy that
datacentre numbers are the kind of secret detail that don't need
to be shared with shareholders, governments, energy providers or
the general public.
I've whinged about it before, but the fact remains: this message would be a lot more effective
if there were some hard numbers behind it, and it creates a
dangerous precedent where corporations expect us to trust that
they're doing the right thing for the environment without actually
detailing the impact their operations have.