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Ah, the California "too many taxes and stupid regulations" flounce. I've been hearing that one pretty regularly for the past 20 years, at least. Thing is, every time one of my neighbors or friends moved off to Arizona or Oregon or Nevada, their house was never empty long, and whoever moved in was generally affluent, productive and, dare I say it, a job creator.

I won't defend California state politics - they're indefensible. But I do wish that people in your general position would do something beyond whining. How many tech folks do you know who don't even bother to vote? Or even know who their state representatives are, let alone where they stand on issues that are important to running a business in California? I sometimes think we as a state tolerate our dysfunctional politicians, because we need some universal topic of conversation to fill the gap left by having no weather about which to complain.

I don't know anything about you beyond what you've shared in the columns on the site. Maybe you gave time or money to oppose some of the stupid initiatives you mentioned. Maybe you're heavily active in local politics, or at least regularly write to your representatives in the state senate and assembly to let them know your view on the legislation currently under debate. Frankly, if you do any of those, thank you, I'm sorry for doubting you, and I really hope you stick around. But if you have done any of those things, that would also put you among the minority of the whiners and flouncers that I've known.

Sacramento isn't like the weather. If enough of us residents cared enough to change it, we could. Instead, the level of caring seems to hover somewhere right above "typing out an angry rant" but well below "volunteering for an hour a week with a group actually trying to do good".

1 year, 5 months ago on Screw you, California — I ate foie gras last night. At a restaurant

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What the author could have done a much better job of explaining is that there are a few companies running data centers at massive scale (Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc.) and then a long tail of thousands and thousands of data centers which may be nothing more than an oversized closet at Corporate HQ for the Exchange server and some shared drives.

 

Generally speaking, the companies running massive-scale data centers are working very, very hard to make them more efficient. They know that electricity is a huge line item in their operating budget, and they're focused on reducing it. It's the smaller companies - or the ones for whom technology isn't a core focus - that tend to run quite inefficient data centers, and also tend to be very conservative in how they manage them.

 

I would believe the McKinsey statistic is a reasonable stab at a difficult problem if you choose data center as your unit of measurement, because, as I said, there's a very long tail of small and very inefficient data centers. But if you instead looked at utilization rates for racks or servers across the industry (both of which would be more relevant), the percentage would be signficantly higher because more of the computing power is concentrated in the largest data centers that tend to be the most efficient.

 

Characterizing data center inefficiency as a dirty secret was pretty funny, though. I've seen those McKinsey numbers in the sales pitches of more companies selling some sort of cloud or virtualization or data center consolidation service to enterprises than I really care to contemplate.

 

Which gets me to my major beef with the article...the author seems to have decided to ignore that there are multiple good-sized industries that have sprung up around helping companies run their data centers more efficiently, that virtualization and data center consolidation have been topping those annual surveys of CIO priorities for literally years running, and that McKinsey (which runs a rather lucerative business consulting on these massive data center consolidation and virtualization projects) is hardly a disinterested observer.

 

The whole thing makes a lot more sense if you figure the author talked to a bunch of consultants with a definite agenda pushing the inefficiency of *enterprise* data centers, then decided to throw in some references to Facebook and Amazon's scale to sex up the article, either not knowing or not caring that *web* companies are a whole different animal when it comes to data centers.

 

1 year, 10 months ago on A Lot of Lead Bullets: A Blistering Response to the NYT on Data Center Efficiency

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