Microsoft’s Energy-Wasting Strong-Arm Tactics Show That Redmond Hasn’t Changed

first_imgIT + Project Management: A Love Affair Related Posts Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… brian proffitt Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…center_img Cloud computing promises to create a more efficient, more productive global economy – but it uses gargantuan amounts of electricity: between 1.7 and 2.2 percent of U.S. power use, according to a 2010 report. That puts cloud providers in a position of responsibility with respect to the global community: We’re depending on them to deliver their services with the minimum possible impact on energy supplies and carbon emissions. Microsoft clearly doesn’t give a damn.Over the weekend, The New York Times reported a 2010 incident that occurred between Microsoft, the owner of one such datacenter in Quincy, Washington, and the Grant County Public Utility District (GCPUD). Microsoft apparently overestimated the amount of power it would use. Under the terms of its agreement with the GCPUD, the company owed a $210,000 fine to compensate for the extra energy generated. Microsoft could have paid the fine and worked on better estimates of its power consumption. Indeed, Yahoo, which also has a datacenter in Quincy, paid similar fine of $94,608. But that would have been too humble for a computing superpower and convicted antitrust violator. Instead, the company started wasting millions of watts of power, threatening to continue until the fine was cut, the Times reported.In the course of three days in mid-December 2011, Microsoft’s data center went from consuming 28.5 million watts to 34 million watts generated by highly polluting diesel generators. That’s enough energy to power 3,323 U.S. homes (based on an average of 16.55kWh per day). To generate the power needed to make up for its underuse, Microsoft spent an additional $70,000 on its energy bill to force the GCPUD to drop the $210,000 fine.The tactic worked: The utility reduced Microsoft’s fine to $60,000.Yet, beyond the corporate bottom line, Microsoft’s action was woefully irresponsible. The emerging cloud services industry needs to gain the public’s trust and support. Microsoft’s actions only increase the headwind. And the impact goes beyond the industry: Energy management is a critical issue for U.S. economic stability. As the nation struggles to shift from fossil fuels to electricity (such as the move to electric vehicles), US grid power has ever greater national security implications. Moreover, greenhouse gas emissions – even from “clean” hydropower, which produces plenty of methane – have a global impact in speeding regional economic shifts, sea level rise, and loss of biodiversity.Microsoft, along with Google and Amazon, is the standard bearer for cloud services. It has no business wasting power simply to strong-arm a utility and avoid paying what it rightfully owes. Microsoft says this is an isolated incident, but given the company’s monopolist past, that’s hard to swallow. The executives in Redmond and the local execs in Quincy have let us all down and need to make amends by refocusing their efforts on energy efficiency and compliance with the law.Microsoft’s tactics are an open invitation for the US Federal Trade Commission to get back in Microsoft’s face, and we hope the FTC comes down hard. Microsoft’s eggregious actions are a blight on the entire tech community.Image Courtesy of Shutterstock 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Tags:#cloud computing#enterprise#Microsoft last_img

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