Why Facebook And Google's Data centres Are Not Killing Our Planet

Jeff RothschildFacebook’s Jeff Rothschild

Photo: Facebook

Big Internet companies like Facebook and Google are being accused of running data centres that pollute the planet by James Glanz in the New York Times. He bases the accusation on data from a McKinsey & Company survey, interviews with several experts and analysis of thousands of government documents.

The power hungry data centres are leading to “the proliferation of backup diesel generators,” says Glanz.

But popular blogger Diego Doval has a strong response to the New York Times article. Doval, a computer scientist PhD and former CTO of Ning, disputes Glanz’s article noting a bunch of things:

  • High energy use and pollution is NOT “an industry dirty secret” as Glanz’s story claims. “There are hundreds of conferences and gatherings a year, open to the public,” all working on new greener tech, notes Doval. It’s technical, even arcane, but not secret.
  • Backup systems at data centre are NOT evil. “Let’s look at what happens when a data centre goes offline,” he notes. “Eng/ops people don’t deploy systems for the fun of it. We do this because it’s required, and, if anything, we do less than we know we should.” These days, most systems back up to each other. All the servers are working, but they keep some extra space to take on extra work if another system goes down.
  • Some of the smartest minds in the world are working on this problem including the Facebook engineer Glanz quotes in the article, engineering chief, Jeff Rothschild. Facebook is going to great lengths to build very green data centres. “This isn’t just an incredibly inaccurate representation of the dedication and hard work of eng/ops everywhere in the computer industry, I know for a fact it’s also inaccurate in what regards to Facebook itself,” writes Doval.

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