Mike Vizard Watches Ballmer Play the Green Card

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer came to CeBIT today and played a decidedly green card to appeal to the sensibilities of the European community.

As part of an overall effort to reduce the amount of power consumed by systems running products developed by Microsoft, the company said it is making available a set of Data Center Best Practices to customers that is derived from knowledge gained from running its own data centers. That guide will include advice on how to select sites, space optimization planning and advice on how to prioritize power distribution within the data center.

As part of an effort to practice what it preaches, Ballmer revealed that Microsoft is building new data centers in Dublin, Ireland and Quincy, Wash., for both environmental and economic reasons.

For example, it turns out Ireland has one of the best climates in the world when it comes to air temperatures that can be use to cool data centers using a process that Microsoft refers to as air-side economization. Meanwhile, the site in Quincy was chosen because it's located near a hydroelectric dam that creates a clean source of power that is relatively cheap to acquire.

Overall, Ballmer said Microsoft has already done a significant amount on work to reduce the power consumption requirements of its products. Vista, for example, in idle mode only consumes 3 watts of power compared with 100 watts of power for Windows XP, he said. And in some instances, Ballmer claimed that Windows Server 2008 consumes as much as 40 percent less power than its predecessor.

Ultimately, Ballmer conceded that Microsoft still has a lot more work to do when it comes to driving green IT initiatives, but he said he thinks that Microsoft will be able to bring power consumption down by a factor of five or more.