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Five people who changed the data center

These five influential data center pros helped change the IT industry by improving energy efficiency through innovation and by driving adoption of quantitative standards.

Just a few years ago, the data center industry faced an energy crisis. Data centers were running out of capacity. The existing infrastructure couldn't handle such high-density server designs. And the servers themselves were sprawling out of control, minimally utilized. Fast-forward to 2010, and data center design and operations have evolved significantly. The industry has largely adopted new best practices and metrics for measuring energy efficiency, and virtualization technologies that improve server utilization are widely implemented.

The five people interviewed for this series have changed the data center industry and helped drive innovative thinking and quantitative benchmarking in the field. They helped all data center professionals become better stewards of their companies' resources, and the planet. While dozens, even hundreds, of others participated in the effort to improve data center efficiency, these five members of the industry stand out based on their significant contributions and for influencing their peers.


Christian Belady
Is the data center efficiency crisis over? A Q&A with Christian Belady
Christian Belady, the director of hardware architecture at Microsoft's eXtreme Computing Group, is one of the most influential thinkers in the data center. In 2006, Belady introduced the power usage effectiveness (PUE) metric, and today PUE is a global data center standard.


Jonathan Koomey
Jon Koomey: Stopping the runaway train of server energy usage
Jonathan Koomey, a Stanford University professor and project scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was the first person to quantify data center energy use. Experts would argue that his 2007 study on server power consumption was the catalyst that drove data center efficiency forward over the coming years.


Mike Manos
Data center build-out guru Mike Manos on data center containers, carbon reduction legislation
Mike Manos, the vice president of service operations at Nokia, has had a major impact on the data center industry. As the general manager of data center services at Microsoft, Manos oversaw Redmond's infrastructure ramp-up to compete with Google and pushed adoption of containerized data centers by using them in high-profile facilities. He is also a fixture on the data center conference circuit; he has warned IT organizations about coming carbon regulation for data centers.


Dean Nelson
Ebay's Dean Nelson brings power to the people
Dean Nelson, the senior director at eBay Inc., believes in the power of the data center operator to change the industry for the better. In 2008, the longtime Sun Microsystems Inc. data center manager co-founded Data Center Pulse, a grassroots end user-only organization, because he was frustrated by traditional user groups' inability to influence vendors to change and improve their products.


Bob Sullivan
Bob Sullivan on the future of data center cooling: A Q&A
Robert Sullivan (aka "Dr. Bob") is known as the father of hot-aisle/cold-aisle design, a fundamental best practice in the data center. Since spearheading the movement nearly two decades ago, Sullivan has advocated data center cooling efficiency best practices around the world through his work with the Uptime Institute.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Matt Stansberry, Executive Editor.

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