Hosting means much more to us than providing powerful and reliable servers to run Soapbox sites. It’s an opportunity to make real our triple bottom-line focus on people, planet, and profit by providing green hosting through the quality services of our data center.
We focus on the following concrete steps to make Soapbox sites as green as an envious tree frog in a rainforest:
Our data center has partnered with Green Mountain Energy, the leading provider of cleaner energy and carbon offsetting solutions, to purchase carbon credits to offset the emissions of our hosting operations. On behalf of our data center, Green Mountain will invest in renewable energy sources like wind and solar power as well as biomass facilities – many of which have been setup as a result of their initiatives. Funding will also provide support for reforestation projects through Green Mountain’s relationship with the Pacific Forest Trust. Emissions levels are reviewed annually and carbon credits adjusted accordingly.
Reduced Energy Consumption
While overall emissions may rise as business grows, the long-term game plan is to actually reduce our data center’s emissions on a per client basis across all operations. This means that the carbon emissions generated by delivering service to a client today are less than they were a year ago and going into the future we hope to reduce them further. Many steps have already been taken on the technology front to achieve this such as investing in more expensive but far more power efficient computer processors, like Intel’s latest Nehalem line of CPUs. Likewise, where in the past the data center would install sixteen 1GB RAM sticks in a server they will now install four 4GB RAM sticks instead, giving the same computing power but reducing power usage by around 30 watts per server. This adds up to a lot of savings across an entire data center. With the rising cost of electricity, reducing our energy consumption makes both business and environmental sense for our data center.
Data Center Cooling Improvements
It is a little known fact in hosting that for every amp of power used to run a server in a data center it takes on average another amp of power to run the climate control systems that cool it. Our data center has been working to reduce the amount of power consumed in cooling operations in several different ways. Firstly, they have installed filler panels in all cabinet slots that are not actually filled by servers. This means all of the cold air is forced through the servers instead of passing through gaps above or below. It takes lot of energy to cool the air in a data center, especially in the summer months, so not passing all of the cool air through the servers is wasteful which is what the filler panels help to prevent. Secondly, the data center’s exclusive server hardware vendor, Supermicro, designs the best rackmount system chassis available in terms of air flow design. By deploying servers with the best possible air flow it actually raises the ambient air temperature of data center floor by around two degrees Fahrenheit without compromising service in any way at all. By raising the floor temperature slightly, the load on the climate control systems is reduced. Lastly, our data center also invests heavily in other technologies to improve airflow and cooling like raised flooring with perforated tiles throughout the facility and efficient hot / cold isle cabinet layouts on the data center floor.
Recycling and Reducing Wastefulness
Where possible all of the packaging our data center receives with new servers, switches and other items in is fully recycled. Vendors like Supermicro are also working to reduce the amount of packaging their servers require as well. Our data center works to reduce wastefulness by keeping printing to a minimum.
Since PICnet started in 2001, we’ve been using Pair Networks as our shared hosting provider of choice for all our clients. Their staff is amazingly knowledgeable, friendly, and provides immediate support to us tech people. Today, they continued to shine for us.
One of our clients had a completely miserable hosting provider (very large provider that shall remain nameless), and trying to get tech support to figure out what was wrong with their database server took an act of God. Then, when you got tech support, they read off a script, and had about 10 different logins for us to tell them. At the end of the day, the client’s hosting has been in disarray for years with this provider, and they needed to cut fast.
A quick sign-up with Pair, and a nice email to their sales line (I think they know who we are by now), and we were up and running with a new account in less than 15 minutes, with the full connections we needed (SSH, not just Telnet, and all the databases and disk space the client could use).
Pair, if you’re reading this, thanks for 6 years of awesome support! We always recommend them to other organizations looking to find reliable hosting with a friendly, and reliable, support staff. And tech people, their staff are extremely knowledgeable and actually know what they’re talking about (I know, hard to believe, right).