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Facebook Opens up on Data Center Energy Efficiency

The social media giant launches near real-time dashboards that offer a look at how efficient massive IT operations can be.

In advance of Earth Day, Monday April 22nd, Facebook is giving the public an unprecedented look into how the company's data center energy efficiency efforts are translating into real-world results.

The social media giant has launched new dashboards that dish up interactive visualizations and offer near-real-time and historical information on metrics that can be used to gauge a computing facility's environmental impact, including power usage effectiveness (PUE) and water usage effectiveness (WUE). Currently, Facebook is offering a dashboard for its data centers in Prineville, Ore. location and Forest City, N.C.

PUE, a measurement developed by The Green Grid, is a ratio that determines how much of the electricity that is pumped into a data center goes toward powering its IT systems. The lower and closer to 1 that number reaches, the more efficiently that data center is operating.

For example, Facebook's Forest City data center has logged a PUE rating of 1.10 for the past 3 months, as of this writing. Prineville's trailing twelve-month (TTM) PUE performance is currently 1.06. Facebook notes that The Green Grid's PUE recommendations for the IT sector is 1.5.

The company is also blazing trails, of sorts, by reporting its water use.

Facebook explains, "Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE), developed by The Green Grid, is a ratio of data center water use to the energy delivered to the servers. Facebook cares about using water efficiently and pioneered reporting WUE in Q4 2012. Since WUE is a relatively new measure, there are currently no industry standards or baselines."

The dashboards also reports on outdoor temperatures and humidity, offering a glimpse at how well and efficiently its cooling systems are working. Yet, while the visuals are sleek, user-friendly and rich in information, Facebook sustainability team program manager Lyrica McTiernan hinted that devising the technology required a little more work than the average Web app.

"Creating these dashboards wasn't a straightforward task. Our data centers aren't completed yet; we're still in the process of building out suites and finalizing the parameters for our building managements systems. All our data centers are literally still construction sites, with new data halls coming online at different points throughout the year," wrote McTiernan in an Open Compute Project blog post.

So expect the occasional blip and outlier measurement, said McTiernan. "These dashboards are about surfacing raw data – and sometimes, raw data looks messy. But we believe in iteration, in getting projects out the door and improving them over time. So we welcome you behind the curtain, wonky numbers and all," she added.

What about Facebook's Data Center at the edge of the Arctic Circle? That dash is on its way, informed McTiernan. "Once our data center in Lulea, Sweden, comes online, we'll begin publishing for that site as well."

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.




Tags: Facebook, data center, energy efficiency, data center cooling


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