Data centers notoriously consume a lot of energy.
In fact, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, they account for 2% of all electricity use in the U.S.—and this figure is growing as the information technology sector expands. Closer to home, data centers account for more than 90% of PubMatic’s energy footprint globally.
Since the founding of the company in 2006, we’ve been committed to helping publishers succeed; our mission is to fuel the endless potential of internet content creators. And in support of that mission, we are committed to building the digital advertising supply chain of the future – one that prioritizes transparency, efficiency, and performance, as well as sustainability.
As PubMatic matured as a business, we decided to eschew the public cloud and instead build a fully owned and operated global private cloud. This not only reduced our cost of operations by one-third, but also reduced the compute resources required to run our business by one-third. The alignment of the operational efficiency benefits with an improvement in our environmental impact was a win-win. As we achieved more control over our data center operations and the vendors we partner with, we had both an opportunity and a responsibility to focus on the environmental sustainability of our platform.
With that in mind, I want to share five focus areas for ensuring scale comes not at the cost of data center sustainability – but in support of it – as we grow our business:
Our specialized cloud infrastructure platform combines unique software with owned and operated hardware that has been deployed around the world in third-party data centers. The relationships with these vendors are long-term commitments, and we have prioritized global partners with a long-term commitment to helping us meet our sustainability goals.
Our teams have been working with our partners to move all of the power consumed by our data centers globally to renewable energy. Each new service order with these partners is contingent on all of the power utilized by our technology infrastructure coming from wind, solar, or hydroelectric sources. As of the start of this year, we exclusively use 100% renewable energy to power our 10 data centers globally. As our business footprint grows, we are committed to maintaining this status.
Next, we want to decrease the carbon footprint of our data centers. Infrastructure efficiency is helping to enable this change. Five years ago, we were processing fewer than 1,400 queries per second (QPS) per server. Today, we process more than 5,500 QPS. This represents an over 4x improvement in efficiency and a dramatic reduction in computing power and therefore emissions.
One way we have reduced our footprint as customer demand increases is to switch from Intel CPUs to AMD CPUs, which consume a lot less power per unit. In fact, the AMD CPUs provide almost 5x better performance, which means we need fewer servers to process the same one million impressions. Even ten watts per unit really adds up over time, and this will become increasingly important as we grow.
Meanwhile, we want to make sure our existing resources are being used efficiently. That means optimizing the traffic that comes through our gates, or optimizing the traffic that publishers send us. In other words, if we can avoid processing traffic that doesn’t transact, we can reserve resources for the traffic that is more valuable to our customers. This ultimately drives greater utilization of our infrastructure, delivering more advertising revenue to our customers, and reducing our carbon footprint.
We currently recycle approximately 95% of the resources used as part of our data center operations, and we plan to increase that to 100%. To better monitor our performance toward this goal, we have a centralized systems integrator that provides the ability to track and recycle waste – including server equipment, cardboard, and packing materials – minimizing what is sent to landfill. We have also designed and produced a reusable wooden crate for shipping our server racks and equipment globally. This reduces packing material sent to colocation facilities, such as those in London, Tokyo, and Singapore, thereby reducing waste and costs.
Infrastructure and Partners
In the last five years, we’ve made a conscious effort not just to expand, but to do so efficiently, so we can reduce the resources required to process the same one million impressions. We have sought out partners with a similar mindset both in terms of expansion and sustainability.
We are still early in our journey to run a more sustainable business and help shepherd in a new era of environmentally responsible operations. Over the coming months, we plan to increase our focus on sustainability and act on a robust plan for reducing the environmental impact of our data centers and operations.
In sum, by efficiently driving our infrastructure development, we are helping PubMatic – and all of our customers – be more responsible and efficient in the resources we use. And that just makes sense for our industry and our planet.