Friday, November 5, 2010, I attended a super Critical Facilities Roundtable event that met its objectives: educating an audience on new ways of thinking. The context was a new data center campus, three buildings sitting on 18 acres in Santa Clara with gobs of existing fiber and power, waiting to be transformed from a commercial site with some chip simulation data center activity into a hefty 37 MW powerhouse fed by two independent substations and gridline connections. You know the concept sounds sexy when the competition fills the audience. In this case, Vantage Data Centers (this is the first of 15 that are planned globally by Silverlake partners) is the vision of James R. Trout, CEO, formerly with Digital Realty and other co-location providers. He firmly believes that in contrast to the lights out data centers that are available everywhere, that Santa Clara customers will pay extra to house their data center in good architecture, landscaped public areas, and office suites next to their data - true server huggers must apply. He bases it on his years of experience and market research.
Somewhere more than a year ago in this blog, I asked why the East Coast has some architecturally pleasing data centers and the West Coast doesn't. That will change if Trout has his way. he is re-designing the exteriors of three buildings to hide the 1970s warehouse look for a sleek corporate office look.
This presentation by Vantage was timely. I had spent previous days this week at the Syscon Cloud Computing event also in Santa Clara. It is obvious that cloud computing is gaining significant ground for all kinds of reasons with all kinds of small, medium, and large customers, the least (reason) of which is that public cloud computing will be more energy efficient since the asset utilization has to be much higher for the business model to succeed. The Rightscale Users Group drew over 300 people, and I was very impressed with the granularity of the data produced. In fact, building on John Koomey's conclusion that the Cloud offers tremendous EE opportunities, it is amazing to me that Rightscale doesn't message that at all. Among current cloud providers, Amazon holds 50% marketshare, followed by Rackspace with 15%, IBM BLue Cloud with 8% and several others with 3-5%. Wht Amazon does better than anyone else is "spot price accordingly whle marginal cost increase is zero", acording to Sungard's CTO Indu Kodukula, who was also a speaker at the CFRT event (see the content from both events merges in my mind). Well they couldn't get there if the energy efficiency wasn't part of that equation! With higher loads, a cloud may host 10 - 100 customers in a single rack using 4 - 25 kw densities.
So evidently, no one takes consider of claims by companies such as Tensilica or Tilera that energy efficiency gains at the semi conductor level could be 50% or more. Wouldn't that suggest that a 40MW data center then has the equivalent horsepower of today's 80MW data center in five years? Multliply that across all existing data centers being built and tell me that there isn't a glut somewhere on the horizon - all the more reason to differentiate your data center today and sign long term leases. HAVE A GREEN DAY!