Uptime: Companies Gaming 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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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Dave mcil

    What is all this rubbish about. stop casting stones at each other and work together to over come the problems of measurement and standards. First of all the Up time Instate (private company) has developed a system for reliability and risk management metric and appear to be seeing a PUE measurement as a challenge to their privately owned commercial venture. The tier rating system is so open you could drive several trucks though it that is why people are miss using it. The PUE system is an efficiency measure nothing to do with Risk or availability, if fact most data centre operators need to establish what they will except in the balance to efficiency and reliability. The PUE system is also not perfect and will never be able to be used to compare centres totally and should not used as a critical measure. Every data centre has a different operational purpose and objectives and this is what dictates the acceptable level of risk and its balance against efficiency . As a final word and what I see as the most critical point is that neither of these two system are a legitimate standard, the tier system is privately owned and used to generate income and thus can never be a legitimate standard USA or international standard as it can never be used freely by anyone and certainly from an over seas point of view is no where near sufficient. The PUE is a measurement method and needs to be developed, this type of metric could be used in a legitimate standard as a tool but is can never be used as a standard. Both the Tier rating system and the PUE is being incorrectly used because we don't have the correct tools. If everyone works together we actually may get some tools.

  2. TH

    One should get more than one perspective. These really capture what is going on: http://techhermit.wordpress.com/2008/08/29/ken-brill-continues-to-use-his-bully-pulpit-to-slow-down-data-center-energy-efficiency-measurement-adoption/ http://www.greenm3.com/2008/08/uptime-institut.html