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Batteries should be part of the future of Internet infrastructure

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Akamai’s (s AKAM) massive content delivery network, which already currently handles over 2 trillion requests a day, will need to expand by a factor of 100 times over the next five years just to keep up with the demand for real-time video. That massive capacity and coming expansion means Akamai needs to keep power costs in check, and according to a new paper from a group of researchers including Akamai research fellow Ramesh Sitaraman, batteries at the rack or server level could significantly reduce both the power costs and power supply needed to run its networks.

While a centralized block of batteries has commonly been used for backup power for data centers, in more recent years companies like Google (s GOOG) have re-architected servers and racks to have their own distributed backup battery systems, which can be more efficient because the systems can reduce conversion losses. Akamai says that this type of innovation has made it possible for CDNs to also employ individual batteries at the rack and server level, which can likewise reduce inefficiencies.

The researchers found that batteries used for a CDN could provide power savings of up to 14 percent and that could increase up to 35 percent if new types of servers were created that could move in and out of different levels of energy (sleep, half awake, fully awake etc). Most servers are either fully on or off, which leads to a lot of wasted energy. (See, my article on why servers should be more like people article on GigaOM Pro).

The researchers found that these savings could be achieved even with only one full discharge/charge cycle of the batteries every three days. The result, according to Akamai, is that batteries should be “a key element in future distributed network architecture.” Sitaraman plans to present the findings of the paper on Oct. 16th at the ACM Symposium on Cloud Computing in San Jose, Calif.

We’ll address data center energy efficiency, clean power and more our at Structure:Europe conference taking place on October 16 and 17 in Amsterdam.

Images of Toshiba battery and battery systems at Chevron’s microgrid in Dublin, Calif.

3 Responses to “Batteries should be part of the future of Internet infrastructure”

  1. BTW, here is a blog (link below) about the battery research paper. An interesting read though the paper has all the details if you are somewhat of a techie.

    One thing the researchers don’t say is whether it is better to put the batteries inside the server or inside the rack. I can see pluses and minuses of both options.

  2. This is a very cool idea. Google and others have suggested distributing the centralized batteries for better UPS reliability and saving AC/DC conversion loss. This seems to suggest that we can save cost too by decreasing the power supply (KWs) needed. Nice also that savings get better with better server efficiency. How could we access the details of paper?