The tyranny of bad metrics – how regulators’ fixation with idle power is threatening data centre sustainability
05 December, 2017

Jay Dietrich, Program Manager of Climate Stewardship and Energy at IBM and chair of the TGG SERT Analysis working group, will be examining how emerging server and storage product energy efficiency regulations based on idle power could derail the drive for a greener data centre industry.  


When pursuing any goal, choosing how to measure progress is vital. Good metrics align your output with your goals. Bad metrics take you in the wrong direction, and often produce unintended consequences.

Active efficiency, as measured by workload delivered per unit of energy consumed, is generally accepted as the best measuring stick for improving server energy efficiency. It takes into account workload cycles that sometimes (rightfully) render a server idle, providing a holistic perspective on the relationship between server performance and power use.  Vitally, the metric recognises that most high performance servers have higher power demand with proportionally better performance as compared to lower power, lower performance servers. 

Despite this, regulators in both the US and Europe are often fixated with idle power. As a metric, idle power is narrow and circumscribed, looking primarily at individual power units without consideration of workload capacity and speed. As a result of this, idle power doesn’t provide a good measure of server energy efficiency.

In this roundtable, Jay Dietrich (IBM) will look at how emerging regulations based on the idle power metric could hamper our drive to create a more sustainable data centre industry:

  • What pieces of regulation are coming into play?
  • What could their direct impact be on the data centre supply chain?
  • What implications will this have on our ability to create a more sustainable data centre industry?


Please register here if you are interested in learning more. 



Jay Dietrich

Program Manager of Climate Stewardship and Energy at IBM and chair of the TGG SERT Analysis working group

Jay is IBM's recognized global technical expert and leader for energy and climate. His knowledge about energy, climate and how they relate to IBM business make him a critical and unique technical resource who effectively bridges hardware energy efficiency, data center practices, operational management of energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with laws, regulations and client expectations. Jay's technical leadership has brought success to numerous significant cross-functional projects in the areas of product, data center and operational energy efficiency and GHG emissions reduction. He is an effective industry advocate with regulators and external standards organizations to shape requirements that affect IBM products, services solutions and operations, ensuring they are sensible, meet regulators goals, and can be implemented cost effectively. In his role as a Distinguished Engineer, Jay will expand his responsibilities to support IBM's Smarter Planet strategy and 2015 Road Map, including a specific focus on Growth Market countries.