Beyond PUE: How Efficient is Our ITC Infrastructure Itself?

Power Utilization Effectiveness (PUE) has emerged as the universal metric for minimizing non-ICT energy consumption in an ICT facility. It does not address the efficiency of the ICT infrastructure itself. Some practitioners have expressed a concern that an over-focus on PUE could result in a perverse incentive to increase absolute energy consumption.

A recent international initiative to harmonize data center energy efficiency metrics has identified as one of three desired outcomes metrics one that would "measure the potential IT work output compared to expected energy consumption; and measure operational utilization of IT equipment." But the initiative also recognizes that this is an immature area, so it focuses solely on PUE as an "interim step".

There are many proposed approaches to the challenge of increased ICT efficiency.

Metrics discussed include PUEI (Power Usage Effectiveness and Inefficiency) for data centers and several energy efficiency metrics and rankings for CPU performance.

Virtualization is a well-established technique for improving server utilization; cloud computing has potential to apply virtualization to many elements of ICT infrastructures."

More efficient softer applications is another area of attack; approaches range from Germany's GREENSOFT project to define sustainable software to Microsoft's Joulemeter software for estimating the energy consumption of individual virtual machines.

ICT usage practices will also play a role. A growing focus on email as a driver of data storage utilization inefficiency is one example.

Please comment with other examples of how people are approaching the challenge of better ICT utilization.