How Important Is Gear Efficiency in Datacenters?

Microsoft's The Carbon Benefits of Cloud Computing report suggests that the energy efficiency of IT gear has may have the lowest impact on a datacenter's energy footprint, compared with other Green ICT tactics.

The report is a marketing piece for Microsoft's cloud computing services, so it is long on graphics and light on data. The Figure 5 on page 11 indicates that 'IT operational efficiency' and 'Datacenter infrastructure efficiency' each contribute more to reduced energy use than does 'IT equipment efficiency'. Says the report, "The results of this study suggest that more specialized, efficient IT equipment can reduce electricity consumption by 10 percent or more." The chart graphics suggest there is not much more in the "or more".

Likewise, using renewable energy does not necessarily contribute as much to a reduced GHG footprint as do those efficiencies. "The results show that the Microsoft Cloud is between 22 and 93 percent more energy efficient than traditional enterprise datacenters, depending on the specific comparison being made. When taking into account our renewable energy purchases, the Microsoft Cloud is between 72 and 98 percent more carbon efficient. "

The Microsoft report would be more useful to datacenter planners and operators if the Appendices had the data to illuminate these inferences.

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