Online Dashboard Links Business, Energy Use

Ebay has posted a Digital Service Efficiency (DSE) dashboard online that shows the full cost, performance and environmental impact of its customer buy and sell transactions — and it’s hoping other data centers will follow suit.

The company says by releasing the DSE, and its corresponding data, it will establish a baseline for 2012 and then set productivity and efficiency goals for 2013, which include:

  • Increase transactions per kWh by 10 percent year over year.
  • Reduce cost per transaction by 10 percent year over year.
  • Reduce carbon per transaction by 10 percent year over year.

Ebay will update and report out on all the numbers in the dashboard and its progress on the improvement goals each quarter. The company also has a “list of fame” and a “list of shame” with the 1,000 best- and worst-utilized servers within the company, Dean Nelson, eBay’s vice president of Global Foundation Services, tells Gigaom. Nelson says the company is working to determine the cause of the bottom 20 percent’s wastefulness.

By using DSE, eBay says it can make more informed decisions on how to optimize its technical infrastructure, including the sourcing of electrical power. Other companies can also use DSE to improve transparency and track energy consumption.

Gigaom reports that, in one example, a software engineer tweaked some code that affected how much memory an application requires, which allowed the company to cut 400 servers. This reduced its energy use by 1 MW and saved $2 million that would have been required to refresh the eliminated servers.

In a DSE whitepaper, eBay says as of 2010, data centers used about 2.2 percent of global power output, up 56 percent over 2005. While the Green Grid’s Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric created a standard measure and encouraged the industry to become more energy efficient, DSE takes the next step by linking business with energy use, the paper says.

A 451 Research report published in October 2012 said Facebook, eBay, Microsoft and Yahoo represent a “new breed” of data center operator, taking an integrated approach to save energy and costs and meet growing data center demand.

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