Data centers are the workhorses of the latest wave of ICT innovation: cloud computing, the rapid expansion of mobile technology, and the shift from physical media to digital streaming. None would be possible without data centers. However, there is a consequence, namely the growing energy and water use of data centers and the stress that places on the larger system. Industry has responded swiftly by innovating next-generation technologies that dramatically shrink the physical, energy, and water footprint involved while boosting performance and cutting costs. At the same time, new Executive Orders and Congressional actions have mandated increased energy efficiency and more stringent budgets for government. These two forces have come together to create new opportunities for implementing smarter data center technologies in the public sector.
The deal is plain vanilla common sense. The federal government is one of the biggest operators of data centers and is also the single largest energy user in the United States. Replacing and consolidating larger, energy-hogging data centers with smaller, next-gen facilities would save the government money, cut energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide early support for emerging technologies.
To make this a reality, additional smart energy efficiency policies are needed to help government agencies utilize new date center technologies. That was the main topic of an event co-hosted this week by ITI and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) titled, Next-Gen Data Centers: Bringing Energy Efficiency to Government. The Capitol Hill briefing brought together leading experts from ITI, ITIF, industry and academia to discuss the efficacy of innovative data centers and the importance of passing legislation to accelerate its use by government agencies. The event featured opening remarks by Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Ca), a leading ICT advocate in Congress, as well as the perspectives of technology leaders from EMC, HP, and Lockheed Martin.
The event is the latest effort by ITI to advance data center innovation. Beginning in 2005, ITI has worked closely with Rep. Eshoo and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mi) on data center efficiency policy. This partnership began with enactment of PL 109-431, a small but important Rogers/Eshoo bill that was enacted late in the 109th Congress. This resulted in the first, and to date only, major governmental report on data center efficiency, the “Report to Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency”, that was published in August 2007.