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Google reveals seven years of evolving data-center strategy

In an in-depth profile, Google's head of data-center operations provides a history of how the company's approach to data centers has changed in seven years.

Measurement boundaries for Google data-center PUE, or power usage effectiveness. The average PUE for all Google data centers is 1.13, though the company said it could boast a PUE as low as 1.06 when using narrower boundaries.

In an extension of its data-center glasnost, Google is offering an in-depth profile of its evolving strategy in center management.

During the 7×24 Exchange conference today in Phoenix, Joe Kava, the VP of data centers for Google, delivered a presentation giving an intimate look at how the company's data-center strategy has evolved, according to a GigOm report. Kava began his presentation with a seven-year timeline of Google's data-center history that showed the progression of the search giant's strategy.

While profiling an industry shift in data-center strategy, Kava's presentation showed a progression of the search giant's data-center history, starting with 2005, when Google used containers that integrated IT hardware into its data-center space, to 2006, when the Web giant abandoned containers for its own data-center design. Around 2008, the company started using and sharing metrics such as best practices and power usage effectiveness (PUE).

In an industry that covets secrecy, Google has shared data demonstrating how it has improved the mechanical systems at its data centers while reducing the energy consumption of its electrical and cooling systems by 42 percent. The search giant also shared how its modular, cost-effective data-center designs were dramatically reducing the lead time to deliver new data capacity, a process now measured in months instead of years.

The presentation comes a month after Google raised the veil of secrecy by launching a large online photo gallery and Street View tour of the computing hardware inside its data centers. The company also launched a new site, "Where the Internet Lives" with a lot of images of racks of computer gear, raised-floor ventilation systems, multicolored cables, and massive air-conditioning chillers.

In addition to helping other companies grappling with the challenge of reducing energy consumption in the face of ever-increasing data demands, Google's revelation likely also scores goodwill points from observers who may not be aware of the impressive progress the company has tried to make toward minimizing data centers' impact on the environment.