General Manager, Datacenter Advanced Development, Microsoft
Christian Belady is a founding member of the iMasons Advisory Council. For nearly a decade Christian was responsible for Microsoft’s global datacenter expansion, however he now leads the Datacenter Advanced Development(DAD) team for Microsoft with a focus on technologies that can change the game in the industry. He has received many industry awards for innovation and metrics but is best known for being the father of PUE.
Published in Issue 4 | July 30, 2020
Did you choose this industry, or did it choose you?
It is a bit of both. I chose it initially. In the late 90s, working on large HP servers often led to high power levels of these systems, which piqued my curiosity and I wanted to find a solution to improve power efficiency. In pursuit to find an efficient way to deal with high density servers, I had set up a “test lab” datacenter with resistive load to evaluate my hypothesis that underfloor cooling was inefficient. I was successfully able to measure the efficiency and the amount of power that could be cooled per rack. Perfecting this technology, I invented overhead cooling, along with Emerson.
Comparing the cooling and efficiency in this 18-rack datacenter, it became evident that we could cool and be more efficient for higher density servers. I soon became the resident expert at HP on this topic and helped our customers drive efficiency and use hot-isle/cold-isle containment. Ken Brill from Uptime Institute acknowledged my work. One of the customers I met with, mentioned that they really needed to measure the efficiency gains on their servers. On a flight back from Japan, in 2000, I came up with PUE or Power Usage Effectiveness, which is now the de facto global standard for measuring the effectiveness of power utilization in a datacenter. PUE became popular with the Green Grid, and my friend Chris Malone encouraged me to publish my findings on PUE.
Thereafter, Microsoft wanted to hire me, and I couldn’t figure out what a mechanical engineer would do in a software company. With some prodding from Bill Gates, his email articulated why a person with my skills would be important in Microsoft’s future. I decided to join Microsoft. Initially I worked on achieving power efficiencies but the opportunity to work on Microsoft Cloud from the very first day was a life-changer. That is how the industry chose me.
I do believe that the problems ahead of us are much bigger than any one person or company can solve—it will take a village and for me iMasons is that village.
Why did you get involved with iMasons?
I have known Dean [Nelson] for the last 15 years. Dean’s great vision on how to bring people together to drive a common goal is insatiable. When he first reached out to me about the idea of iMasons, I was a bit skeptical. I gave him two convictions—first, I’d want to be part of a forum that encourages critical debate and allows people to come together to move the industry forward; second, to take the leaders in the industry and do something that could change the world. Dean committed to those two convictions, and I joined the Advisory Council. I do believe that the problems ahead of us are much bigger than any one person or company can solve—it will take a village and for me iMasons is that village.