Data Centers Work Out a New Renewable Energy Source

April 1st, 2014 by · 2 Comments

A new trend is poised to emerge in meeting the power needs of the ever-expanding global data center footprint while meeting new green energy standards. Sources say the next big merger deal in the sector will probably be between an unnamed national colocation operator and either Bally's or Gold's Gym.

"All those calories being burned off to fight America's obesity epidemic can be put to a much better use than they are right now", one engineer suggested. "With the right designs, we can harvest the power generated by people running on treadmills, climbing stairmasters, attending spinning classes, and even from the waves in the swimming pool. Data centers in corporate areas with a large enough population of fitness freaks might even be able to sell power to the grid during peak hours."

Even better, data center REITs barely need to change their construction plans to incorporate a fitness franchise. Simply take the same building shells, but replace the racks and cages and with rows of and rows of calorie-harvesting cardio machines, run a few power cables across the parking lot, and voilà.

"Just think of it," said some MBA with a snazzy powerpoint deck. "People actually pay a membership to give you those calories they don't want. The more power they generate for you, the healthier and happier they leave. It's win-win."

Best of all, it's ultimately tapping an entirely renewable source: food people really shouldn't have eaten anyway but did. Even the high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and the xanthum gum ultimately derive from the hard work of our nation's farmers. Well, maybe not the polysorbate 80 or the potassium bisulfate, and definitely not the gummy bears, but you get the idea.

For those peak moments when just a bit more power would help, that's when new advances in SDN could really come in handy.  Early specs for OpenFlow 11.0 are said to include protocols for surreptitiously increasing the speeds on treadmills and stiffening the resistance on rowing machines automatically in response to outside stimuli, thus keeping all those servers humming when some cloud customer accidentally provisions 3000 virtual machines for his personal recipe app during a mid-summer brown-out.

Expanding into fitness centers could ease tensions with the locals as well.  Communities may hesitate when a data center provider tries to install its own power plant, or even a harmless buried nuclear power module.  And who really wants to build data centers out in the boonies where renewable energy always seems to get generated. But who can object to a fitness center, and what better way to fill that empty parking lot and make it look like you're creating as many jobs as you probably promised the community when you built the data center itself?

But gyms themselves may even then be just the tip of the iceberg. In order to maximize the energy output, some data center operators are considering taking the idea a step further and investing in high calorie food chains in the surrounding neighborhood. "The more calories that need to be burned by the highly trained workforce we target, the more green power we can generate ourselves and thus decrease our carbon footprint," one source suggested.  "That means we could make even more money just by offering even bigger portion sizes of deep fried stuff smothered in extremely tasty sauces -- all in the name of greening the data center."

And you wonder how the Matrix got started...  Happy April 1, now go eat some ice cream and hit the gym.

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Categories: Datacenter · Energy · Fun · Mergers and Acquisitions

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