Last year Dropbox announced its commitment to fighting global warming and reducing its carbon footprint through its sustainability goals, which they plan to accomplish by 2030:
- Achieve carbon neutrality for scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3 business travel emissions
- Source 100% renewable energy for our operations, including our data centres
- Support organizations working for climate action
- Mobilize employees to use volunteer time off for environmental causes
As a company that runs on data centres, it recognises the impact it has on global energy consumption, and are proud to announce that all of its data centre storage server power is covered by 100% renewable electricity. This means when you’re storing your data with them, you’re not leaving a carbon footprint.
Its Infrastructure team has worked hard to achieve this milestone through three focus areas: maintaining best-in-class power usage effectiveness, optimizing overall power consumption, and sourcing more renewable energy.
Maintain best-in-class power usage effectiveness (PUE)
Power usage effectiveness measures how efficiently Dropbox are leveraging the power it consumes within our data centers. Not only is this important to its business, it’s important to customers. The Edelman 2021 Trust Barometer found that customers are 5.7% more likely to trust companies that embrace sustainable practices.
They are proud to say that our PUE rating is top of the class in the industry—by 2020, we were operating at 17% below the industry average. Dropbox achieved this by implementing outside air economization and thermal containment solutions and by maximizing power utilization throughout its spaces. But they are aiming to do even better. They want to further optimize efficiency by continuing to explore innovative solutions with their current and future data centres.
Optimize overall power consumption
One way its optimizing its consumption is by quickly powering down decommissioned hosts. At their data centres, Dropbox have a continuous flow of servers that reach their end of life. Its engineers used to decommission those servers manually. They are now leveraging a new Pirlo system that automatically powers down a server host immediately after it’s out of service. This has saved an estimated 5% in power over each server’s lifespan.
They also have servers that sit in an idle state but use power, despite not being being allocated to a specific service. Dropbox are in the process of introducing a new state in its data centres, HDD standby, which will yield approximately 50% power savings on storage hosts and 25% on HDFS hosts, while still allowing the servers to be accessible if needed.
Another way its reducing their overall energy use is by finding the right amount of capacity needed on its servers. They have expanded the team that monitors supply and demand and moved to a monthly planning model so that they can ensure capacity is being properly used at all times. This will enable them to build a more reliable model with more data points, which will increase accountability and allow Dropbox to quickly make changes when needed.
Further, they are always looking at how they can maximize the use of its hardware through infrastructure-wide improvements. Currently, they’re working on improving their orchestration platforms to maximize the overall resource usage, improve efficiency, and lower energy utilization during peak hours.
Lastly, its improving their storage platform so that it has 43% more storage capacity. And in the future, they will be adopting new technology to continue the densification and improving overall power efficiencies.
Source more renewable energy
As they continue to look for new ways to be as efficient as possible, Dropbox also want to make sure the energy our data centres use is renewable, starting with storage. In 2021, they are making significant investments to procure renewable energy, and have committed to making its direct power consumption of their storage platform 100% carbon neutral. Because Magic Pocket, its custom-built, multi-exabyte infrastructure, uses on-premise and public cloud storage, they have unique challenges to curbing our footprint in different local regions. That’s why they’re actively partnering with public utilities and landlords, as well as their cloud partners, to make sure that they are meeting these goals globally.