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The Bureaucratic Pro and Con

The Bureaucratic Pro and ConHave you ever heard the phrase, “a labor of love”? The inference here is that the accomplishment, whatever it might be, was achieved despite a path that was, shall we say, less than smooth. In literature, this is what is known as a triumph over adversity, or as anyone who has ever worked in a large corporation or with any government entity might say “business as usual”. The folks at the Green Grid probably understand this phraseology better than most since after five (5) years of effort they have released their new Data Center Energy Productivity (DCeP)—if energy is the important element here why does it get the lower case “e”—standard.

For those of you unfamiliar with this new standard let me provide a little background. DCeP enables data center operators to develop a ratio of “useful work provided” and energy used. The idea behind this new construct was that PUE, although easy to understand, did not provide end users with an accurate depiction of the efficiency of their site’s energy utilization in relation to the actual work product of the facility. In other words, how much energy is used per each metaphorical “widget” produced by the data center. If you think about it, the concept does make sense, but the apparently the key issue in developing the standard was that there was no consensus on what constituted the widget part of the calculation.

While a large measure of this widget definition problem was certainly due to the fact that no two companies define “widget” in the exact same manner, I think that the real problem that led to the standard’s five year gestational period was the bureaucratic make-up of the working group—oxymoron alert—charged with its development. In hindsight, it’s pretty obvious that any group comprised of members from the Green Grid, US Department of Energy, EPA, European Commission, and Japan’s Ministry of Economy and Green IT Promotion Council is going to come to the table with some fairly divergent opinions on things. With views ranging from “the future of the global economy is in the free flow of information”, “we like energy use as long as we can regulate it” and “all fossil fuel use should be eradicated”—and I have no idea what the Europeans and Japanese thought about things—cobbling together a consensus was always going to be difficult, but I don’t think anyone was figuring on a half a decade.

While I’m sure that this new standard will provide the level of energy utilization insight that we’ve all been clamoring for, I can’t help but wonder that if the Green Grid would have just tossed a couple guys in a room we could have arrived at the same end in a little less time. After all, the Empire State Building was built in only 410 days, we landed on the moon six times in three years, fought, and won, WWII in slightly more than that, and Michelangelo was able to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in just over four; so I think a lot of people were expecting a little more than a white paper as the culmination of this particular exercise. But, based on our collective experiences in similar situations, I guess we should be happy with what we got.

I believe that the development of DCeP is a step in the right direction for our industry, so kudos to the Green Grid. They recognized an industry need and took the steps to address it. I’m sure they weren’t expecting the effort to require such a protracted period of time, but such is the nature of pretty much any bureaucratic exercise. So guys, thanks for the perseverance in delivering your own “labor of love”.