My 10 minutes with Google's datacentre VP

Google's Joe Kava speaking at the Google EU Da...

Google’s Joe Kava speaking at the Google EU Data Center Summit (Photo credit: Tom Raftery)

At the Datacentres Europe 2014 conference in Monaco, I had a chance to not just hear Google’s datacentre VP Joe Kava deliver a keynote speech on how the search giant uses machine learning to achieve energy efficiency but also to speak to him individually for 10 minutes.

Here is my quick Q&A with him:

What can smaller datacentre operators learn from Google’s datacentres? There’s a feeling among many CIOs and IT teams that Google can afford to pump in millions into its facilities to keep them efficient.

Joe Kava: That attitude is not correct. In 2011, we published an exhaustive “how to” instruction set explaining how datacentres can be made more energy efficient without spending a lot of money. We can demonstrate it through our own use cases. Google’s network division, which is the size of a medium enterprise, had a technology refresh and by spending between $25,000 and $50,000 per site, we could improve their high availability features and improve their PUEs from 2.2 to 1.5. The savings were so high that it yielded a payback of the IT spend in just seven months. You show me a CIO who wouldn’t like a payback in seven months. 

Are there any factors, such as strict regulations, that are stifling the datacentre sector?

It is always better for an industry to regulate itself than have the government do it. It fosters innovation. There are many players in the industry that voluntarily regulate themselves in terms of data security and carbon emissions. One example is how since 2006, the industry has strongly rallied together behind the PUE metric and has taken energy efficiency tools quite to heart.

What impact is IoT having on datacentres?

Joe Kava: IoT (internet of things) is definitely having an impact on datacentres. As more volumes of data are created and as mass adoption of the cloud takes place, naturally it will require IT to think about datacentres and its efficiency differently. IoT brings huge sets of opportunities to datacentres.

What is your one piece of advice to CIOs?

You may think I am saying this because I am from Google but I strongly feel that most people that operate their datacentres shouldn’t be doing it. That’s not their core competency. Even if they do everything correctly and even if they have a big budget to build a resilient, highly efficient datacentre, they cannot compete in terms of the quick turnaround and the scalability that dedicated third-party providers can offer.

Tell us something about Google’s datacentres that we do not know

It is astounding to see what we can achieve in terms of efficiency with good old-fashioned testing and development and diligence. The datacentre team constantly questions the parameters and constantly pushes the boundaries to find newer ways to save money with efficiency. We design and build a lot of our own components and I am not just talking about servers and racks. We even design and build our own cooling infrastructure and develop our own components of the power architecture that goes into a facility.

It is a better way of doing things.

Are you building a new datacentre in Europe?

(Smiles broadly) We are always looking at expanding our facilities.

How do you feel about the revelations of the NSA surveillance project and how it has affected third-party datacentre users’ confidence?

It is a subject I feel very strongly from my heart but it is a question that I will let the press and policy team of Google handle.

Thank you Joe

Thank you!


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