While listening to the Green HPC podcast
I had the thought that biodynamic agriculture
could be applied to managing datacenters. Now I might be off my rocker but I think it might be a worthwhile way to think about it, hopefully without getting too hippy-ish.
Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming with homeopathic composts that treats farms as unified and individual organisms, emphasizing balancing the holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants, animals as a self-nourishing system without external inputs insofar as this is possible given the loss of nutrients due to the export of food.
To me this totally has an analog in datacenters, server farms (pun intended) and machine rooms. To paraphrase the above wikipedia quote:
An electrodynamic datacenter is one that is treated as a unified and individual organism. That is each datacenter is an autonomous entity and needs to be thought about as an organism where all the components (CRACs, servers, network, power, etc) are balanced and interrelated without external inputs insofar as this is possible given the loss of capacity (bandwidth, compute, storage, etc) due to export of data, compute or another resource.
Putting it like that seems pretty reasonable and would seem to lean toward making datacenters as efficient as possible. The goal being reducing external inputs (power, bandwidth and etc) while still getting the desired amount of output. Practices such as running datacenters hot, data locality optimization or shutting down part (or all) of a datacenter while not needed would be common place. This would require tight monitoring, analysis, controls and automation on inputs and outputs. This also means developing a quantitative relationship between consumption/utilization and production, ie how much input is required for X amount of output. Certainly an interesting problem to solve and system to build although I imagine some level of this has been implemented by the Googles of the world. While datacenters will likely never be self-sustaining in the end this may be a reasonable way to think about datacenter controls and management especially as we all try to go green for monetary and environmental reasons.