NY Times Reactions: The Conversation Continues

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The reactions continue to flow in from the New York Times’ coverage of the data center industry. We’ve previously posted our own take and an initial round of industry reaction. We’ve now seen the first signs of a political reaction to the paper’s depiction of data center energy use, continued feedback from sources the Times spoke with, and commentary on any long-term impact from the series. Here are the links:

Dems: Something Must Be Done to Curb Data Center Power – From Mark Hachman at SlashDataCenter: “In response to the recent New York Times series on the massive power consumption used by data centers, lawmakers have asked for the status of a congressionally mandated energy-efficiency program for data centers. On Sept. 27, Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Energy and Power Subcommittee Ranking Member Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) sent letters to Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to request an update on efforts to improve energy efficiency in data centers across the country.”

Important to Recognize the Dramatic Improvements in Efficiency – The Uptime Institute was an important source for the NY Times’ piece, with Kenneth Brill, Hank Seader and Bruce Taylor all quoted in the article, while Brill led a Times reporter on a video tour of a financial data center. “The Sunday issue of The New York Times has a circulation of just over 2 million and NYTimes.com is the most popular American newspaper website averaging more than 30 million hits each month. Uptime Institute is pleased to see this issue receiving attention in the national media, but the initial article on the front page of the Sunday New York Times did not recognize the progress that’s been made by the industry, and did not reflect the path that the industry is on for even further efficiency gains. In fact, in the six years since Uptime Institute took up the task to improve the economics and sustainability of global enterprise IT, the data center industry has dramatically improved energy efficiency.”

Insider Redux: Data Barn in a Farm Town - Mike Manos, who headed Microsoft’s data center team when it built the Quincy data center, offers some additional thoughts on the Times’ coverage of that facility: “The article calls out a showdown between Microsoft and the Power Utility District (PUD) over a fine for missing capacity forecasting target…. I can see how that forecast could miss. Projecting power usage months ahead is more than a bit of science mixed with art. It gets into the complexity of understanding capacity planning in your data centers. How big will certain projects grow. Will they meet expectations?, fall short?, new product launches can be duds or massive successes. All of these things go into a model to try and forecast the growth. If you think this is easy I would submit that NO ONE in the industry has been able to master the crystal ball.”

With data centers, web giants have great eco-responsibility - From Derrick Harris at GigaOm: “It appears that not everyone whose job involves running a data center is ready to join the angry mob trying to discredit New York Times reporter James Glanz. Dean Nelson, vice president of global foundation services at eBay, told me during a recent phone interview that although Glanz’s exposé on data center energy waste certainly didn’t present a complete picture about data center efficiency, it did spark a very necessary debate about how to responsibly scale in an age of always-increasing demand for computing resources.”

RF Code Blog: The Data Driven Data Center – Kevin Heslin of Mission Critical, in a guest blog at RF Code: “The most compelling complaint I heard is that the ‘data center industry’ suffered a black eye because of the articles. You can relax, if you have been worrying about this article. It will have no impact whatsoever, and not because of the furious responses of the many industry bloggers who have rebutted it. I read the article online and took a few minutes to look at the comments. And if these reader responses are any indication, no one outside the industry is taking the article seriously. In fact, the reader comments are as critical as anything I have seen written by an industry figure. I’m just astonished that anyone in the industry is surprised that someone from outside the industry might misunderstand that nuances of the industry, misinterpret the ‘fight club’ mentality, or even expect that data centers could keep flying beneath the public’s radar.”

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.