Enterprise IT Context for the CTO

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Gmail Actually Stands for Green(er) Mail

Lifehacker recently announced the results of a survey of their readers regarding e-mail

Lifehacker recently announced the results of a survey of their readers regarding e-mail.  54% indicated they prefer to manage e-mail on the web, versus just 24% who prefer a desktop email client.  20% prefer a hybrid approach (see “Web-based e-mail slaughters Its Desktop Counterparts“).

Web-based e-mail is preferred for lots of reasons.  With this note I’ll highlight one you might not have considered yet.  Web-based e-mail can be better for the environment.

Google has been the driving force behind Data Center and Server efficiency and optimization for the last few years.  They have been using a variety of means to lower data center energy use (detailed at Google’s Going Green site).   The gist of it is that they use water evaporation, streamlined electrical infrastructure, and minimized technology requirements to curb their energy desires.  They even take the Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) out of their servers to lessen energy requirements.

Power Usage Effectiveness

Ask your ISP for their PUE

So how do you, a single consumer use Gmail to lower your carbon footprint?  Well Google has achieved extremely good Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) levels (see: the site “Data Center Knowledge“).  PUE is the ratio of total energy in to your data center, divided by the energy used by your IT technology.  A perfect PUE ratio would be 1, this would indicate that all of the energy used by your data center is used only to drive the IT.  Nothing to cool it, light it, etc.   Since that is about as realistic as perpetual motion, Google has set the standard of excellence right now at a PUE of about 1.1.  They measure PUE daily, and have some data centers down to ratios of 1.11.  They are not the only ones striving for efficiencies.  Microsoft’s newest data center approaches are also getting very efficient.  They report a global average PUE of 1.60.

So what does this really mean?  According to Google, their data centers are roughly 2x as energy efficient as other data centers (imagine one you run yourself, Google’s will be twice as energy efficient).  In addition to their energy efficiencies, they also recycle the water used for cooling their components.  Re-using their cooling water makes Google’s data centers even more environmentally friendly – and better re-use of water is another one of Google’s priorities as they evolve their data centers.

If you are (or even if you are not) looking for a new web-based email – consider Gmail.  It is free (for individuals), it integrates easily with Windows Mobile, iPhone, and Blackberry, and is a green option.  Simply forward your old mail to Gmail, and start making friends to GChat with!

Check out the free personal edition of Gmail here.

You can also consider Hotmail, which is close to Gmail’s efficiency and probably much better than the efficiency of your own data center.  For more on Hotmail see: http://hotmail.com

Related posts:

  1. Cloud computing and my small business
  2. See Inside a Google Data Center and a Google Server
  3. Data Center Design: Notes from a visit to the IT Server Center


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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of CTOvision.com

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