Ever think about what the Internet looks like behind the scenes? You might be surprised by the massive amount of work Internet companies are doing to bring us websites like Ask.com. A gigantic network of computers (servers) hums away at all hours of the day and night to bring information from every remote place in the world into our homes. This large network of machinery is not without its environmental consequences. Some estimates say that Internet data centers, the facilities that are home to the computers that serve the Internet, used an average of 30 gigawatts of power in 2012. That’s enough to power an entire country! 

Titan, our existing server named after deities in Greek mythology, was built for Ask.com expansion many years ago. We rented a former NORAD missile control center and trucked in thousands of servers to bring more answers to the world’s questions. Part of my work here at Ask.com involves global strategies for data-center collocation. That means that I get to help make our website lean, mean, and better for our world’s ecosystem. Last year our team analyzed our servers and found an exciting opportunity. Innovations in technology both at Ask and worldwide created the possibility for us to retire this behemoth in favor of a leaner and more environmentally-friendly facility. We discovered an ability to close a huge data center capable of running almost 50,000 servers and replace it with only 150 lean-and-mean hypervisors.

Introducing Zeus - son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea! In March of 2014, a crack team of Ask.com engineers ventured screwdriver-in-hand to Las Vegas, Nevada to build Zeus, our next-generation data center. Zeus will be home to only 150 servers and operate at extremely-high efficiency. Not only is this better for our ecosystem, but it’s a great excuse to head to Las Vegas for frequent maintenance. 

Check out the team in action as we installed Zeus!

Happy Earth Day Everyone!

- Jack Roehrig

Jack Roehrig runs platform and infrastructure services at Ask.com as Director, OSE and Information Security Officer.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption

http://www.greenhousedata.com/images/uploads/GHD_Data_Energy_Infographic.png (sources listed at bottom).