Al Gore’s Challenge
First let me preface all comments below by saying that Cisco does not adhere to any particular political point of view on global climate change. However, we do listen to the world’s scientific community. I personally am a lifelong registered independent and believe in choosing the best team to get a particular job done. So, with the disclaimer out of the way I will say that political will and individual responsibility are the key components to tackling this massive set of challenges. However, there is a lot we all can do to take personal responsibility to make changes in our personal and professional lives.Not sure if you’ve seen it yet but the abbreviated version of Big Al’s Challenge is a good view (5:06 minutes), posted by WeCanSolveIt.org on July 17, 2008. He makes it crystal clear what needs to be done moving forward, in my opinion. I think it’s safe to say we’ve moved past Green 0.1 which is the basic awareness that our activities impact the planet. Now it’s clear we are moving forward towards Green 1.0 which I would define as “what does Green mean to me”? Now that question doesn’t just get applied to ones home life but work life as well.So we can imagine a million little questions we ask everyday (like that paper versus plastic question at the grocery). Here are a few I ask when consulting on data center projects:1) When considering a Services Oriented approach; what system attributes are important to me (security, availability, scalability, general quality of service and simplicity of management as examples). What infrastructure is required to meet these attributes? Now among said infrastructure how many power supplies are needed, how efficient are they (total average) and lastly what feature sets do I really need within the components?2) When designing facilities to support IT systems; how flexible and scalable is my facilities design over what time period? What if I need to move/consolidate within the 10-15 design life of data center facilities? Can my design accommodate the dynamic power and cooling characteristics of a virtualized IT architecture?3) Where are we today? How efficient is our data center? Without having some key metrics to measure against how do we know we are getting better?4) What steps can we take to improve upon our net power consumption, power growth curve, emissions profile and standard operating procedures?5) Is our organization set up to support energy efficiency as a business priority?6) What is the financial case for operating in a more sustainable manner?7) What type of power source are we plugging our data center into? Is it coal, is it nuke, is it hydro? Can we implement local renewable generation to compliment our main power source? What is the ROI for renewable investment?These points are of course vastly simplified but hopefully impart some points of view that have not traditionally been considered in our daily professional lives. Just like in our personal lives, everything needs to make financial sense. This is one of the reasons I am taking a bit of a risk here by citing Al Gore’s challenge as he clearly spells out the fact that the environment, the economy and global security issues are all inter-related. As data center professionals we have a big role to play here and our operations will be under increased scrutiny moving forward.The good news is that we can already demonstrate that reducing our emissions saves money. So whether you lean to the right or to the left doesn’t matter, money speaks to both. If you would like to see for yourself, please take a look at the Green Data Center Model Calculator beta release within the Efficiency Assurance Program.Whether you agree with Al Gore’s political stance or not, he is spurring discussion which helps us all learn from each other. I’ve already received some scathing emails from putting his name up here so feel free to post them as comments versus direct mails so other can learn from your point of view. Here is an anonymous excerpt from one in particular:“I very strongly object to linking Cisco’s great energy-efficient data center story to the unscientific, inaccurate, and, quite frankly, hysterical (and completely politically-motivated) rhetoric of Al Gore.”Your thoughts?PS – the answer to the paper versus plastic question is bring your own bags, it’s not hard to do. In fact San Francisco has now outlawed plastic bags within the city limits, now there are some bragging rights!