Uptime: Companies Gaming PUE Numbers

Uptime's Ken Brill warns that some data center operators are manipulating or manufacturing Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) numbers.

Uptime Institute executive director Ken Brill said yesterday that some data center operators are manipulating or manufacturing Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) numbers.

In an online seminar, Brill said this is putting pressure on other data center managers to match these PUE ratios. Matt Stansberry has a summary at Data Center Facilities Pro:

Brill said he's seen companies talking about a PUE of 0.8, which is physically impossible. "There is a lot of competitive manipulation and gaming going on," Brill said. "Our network members are tired of being called in by management to explain why someone has a better PUE than they do."

The Uptime Institute is familiar with what can happen when data center operators play fast and loose with competitive benchmarks.

That's pretty much what happened with the Uptime Tier System, which set forth a four-tier rating system for data center reliability. Data centers began describing themselves as equivalent to "tier three-plus" or even "Tier Five."

But while the Uptime tier system became a recognized benchmark, the institute's efforts to advance its own standards for energy efficiency have gotten less traction than the PUE system developed by The Green Grid. Uptime has proposed four green metrics (PDF) including Site Infrastructure Energy Efficiency Ratio (SI-EER). For more info, Ken Oestreich from Cassatt has a nice overview of the proposed green data center metrics.

Brill says PUE is a snapshot of data center efficiency at a single point, and not designed to track progress over time. But Dave Ohara at the Green Data Center blog argues that regular PUE measurements over time provide a worthwhile picture of improvements in energy usage and management.

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