CEBIT - Microsoft: Customers demand energy-saving software

Microsoft will release a set of best practices for administrators running data centers, focusing on energy-saving strategies

Microsoft will release a set of best practices for administrators running data centers, focusing on energy-saving strategies the company is implementing in its own operations, CEO Steve Ballmer said Monday.

Those tips will covers issues such as how to pick a good site for a data center, how to deal with heat and manage power consumption, Ballmer said during a keynote presentation at the Cebit trade show in Germany.

The move is in response to growing concern over the release of carbon dioxide, one of the byproducts of burning fossil fuels to create electricity. In addition, power demands are ever-increasing, Ballmer said.

"If you look at non-travel power consumption in the world today ... information technology is one of the most rapidly growing power consumers on the planet," Ballmer said. "We think we have a real responsibility ... to reduce power consumption by the IT industry."

Ballmer said the company has for the last decade studied how to engineer its products to consume less power. He cited significant power use reductions in several products.

Windows Vista, the company's latest operating system, consumes 3 watts per hour when running in idle mode, compared to 100 watts per hour for Windows XP. In some configurations, Microsoft's Windows Server 2008, the company's next-generation server launched last week, uses 40 percent less power than Windows Server 2003, Ballmer said.

Microsoft also continues to develop its virtualization technology, Ballmer said. Virtualization software enables one piece of hardware to run multiple operating systems, which decreases the need for more physical servers.

To increase its ability to offer hosted applications, Microsoft has been building data centers around the world in places where the company will have access to cheap hydroelectric power, Ballmer said.

But there's room to make hardware and software less power-hungry, Ballmer said. Emerging innovations could reduce power consumption in data centers by a factor of five, he said.

"We've tried to be a pioneer ... in our own data centers," Ballmer said. "These new data centers put us on a path to be among the most power efficient and ecologically sound data centers in the world."

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