Google Gets Shifty With Its Data Center Operations

[qi:gigaom_icon_hardware] Google is operating a data center in Belgium without chillers (which augment cool air to help keep the data center at the right temperature and use a lot of electricity), according to Rich Miller over at Data Center Knowledge. However, what’s most noteworthy about this is that Google appears to have the means to automatically shift its data center operations from the chiller-less data center if the temperatures get too high for the gear. The ability to automatically and seamlessly shift data center operations and tasks is a key element in building out data centers that can operate on renewable energy or merely more efficiently. Miller calls it a “follow-the-moon” strategy because a company with a larger number of data centers could shift computing around the globe so processes are completed at night when the temperature is lower and cooling costs are cheaper.

The ability to seamlessly shift workloads between data centers also creates intriguing long-term energy management possibilities, including a “follow the moon” strategy which takes advantage of lower costs for power and cooling during overnight hours. In this scenario, virtualized workloads are shifted across data centers in different time zones to capture savings from off-peak utility rates.

I wrote about a similar scenario last July, only I said data center operators would follow the sun with their workloads so they could use a renewable energy like solar power to provide electricity for their operations. When the sun sets, or on cloudy days, the workload moves to where another power source is available. Regardless, moving data center operations isn’t an easy process, and it requires a lot of bandwidth between the data centers. As Google masters this, expect other companies to follow suit, not merely because they can save on power, but because it makes cloud computing much more reliable in that when one data center experiences a failure, a cloud provider can redistribute operations around the globe.

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