-Efficient"> Is the federal government going to use financial incentives to get people to commit to upgrading their data centers? From a very practical standpoint, we did not address federal incentives. If anything, that requires the mutual attention of way too many agencies.Some regional incentives are happening now, and utilities are the first place where you can look. In fact, I know that PG&E [Pacific Gas and Electric Company in Northern California] has been the first to get out there with tax incentives. Austin [Texas] Energy just kicked off a program that roughly mimics what PG&E is doing. The Northeast is another area where there are considerable grid liability problems. How much new investment does the grid need at this time? The grid needs probably on the order of $300 billion to $500 billion in investment to upgrade the electrical infrastructure. Wheres the money going to come from? Taxes? Exactly. If those investments were made, like any organization, utilities are going to pass on the costs in the form of rate hikes. And they should, because electricity is not free, the grids not free; it costs money to run these things. So if again, until significant upgrades are made to the grid, the best thing to do is try to reduce stress on the grid. Right now, its pretty high. What Energy Star has done in the past, and will attempt to do in the future, is identify some key equipment on the IT sidemaybe also on the power sideand say, "Lets do what we did for Energy Star refrigerators and air conditioners for serversthe same turnkey approach." For the server manufacturers, they have a national program to roll back power usage. Utilities have a turnkey way of doing it in their neighborhood without necessarily having to recreate the wheel. So thats the plan. And I think in the next year, youll see a lot of this happening. What about small and midsize businesses and closet-size data centers? For those types of mini_facilities, Energy Star can be really important, because, literally, if you have a small business making buying decisions on one or two servers a year, a rack every now and then, Energy Star makes it really easy to at least remind them, "Hey, theres an energy implication here." Maybe its the simplest thing they can do, but they get some benefit. At the opposite end of the spectrum there are some very sophisticated organizations using a lot of modeling and analysis, and we could probably learn a thing or two from them. At the same time, I think that if we achieve nothing else, we will at least put the [server] manufacturers on notice that theyve got to take energy consumption seriously. At a minimum, what I think we could do at Energy Star is ask the manufacturers to present the information related to energy in a very standardized way. So, Energy Star is one approach. You could do Energy Star Plusif you have bought an air conditioner or refrigerator recently, there is a DOE [Department of Energy] regulation that requires all those products to have a standard yellow label on themstandardized information. That information is more useful to you if you know a little bit about it. So if you take that plus Energy Star, you might have enough information to make a smart-enough decision about energy consumption to get you most of the way there. Will all this effort add up to enough savings to make a difference? There is this issue: For example, if you got a car that got you 100 mpg, would you do that much more driving? Would you say, "Im going to drive a lot, because the cost of driving is so low?" Probably not. Would your life change so dramatically? Most likely not. But, on the other hand, if data center resources were freed up, theres always somebody wholl want to use them. Certainly, if youve got an IT budget, youre going to want to use it up. Theres always new ways to apply technology. We just say this: "Be as efficient as you can for what you have to do." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
There are already lots of [built-in] financial incentives for people to try to implement these strategies in the data center. They dont need any federal incentives.