Companies are rethinking how to build a data center – from the ground up. From automated air handling controls to bi-level design, improvements in both efficiency of footprint and reduced electrical demands for cooling can provide room for growth. Add analytics to track consumption and performance and you have operational knowledge that many centers lack.
Outside Washington DC, Power Loft is building a two-story structure with first floor 27-feet-high and second story 21-feet-high. On the first floor, AC and electrical equipment blows cool air and the second floor contains racks of servers, blades and other gear. The company claims a 50 percent improvement in efficiency and 100 percent more-power-per-rack-managed than today’s best levels.
As recently as 2005 expectation was each rack would consume 1 kilowatt of electrical power. Now its 6-8kw and headed to 20kw. That is taxing current centers, but consolidation and efficiency alone won’t save the day. Another new approach comes from AdaptivCool of Milford, NH, the data center division of Degree Controls Inc. If you’re chilly when you walk through a data center, you’re wasting cool air on people instead of machines, says Rajesh Nair, founder and CTO of Degree Controls, Inc. (degreeC) .
Instead of cooling an entire room, his company focuses on chilling only what’s too hot. After all, when you eat a spicy meal, you don’t pour water over your head — Non-IT advice: Instead of drinking when your mouth is ablaze, consider a piece of bread or mouthful of sugar to counter-act the spice. It works faster.
Similarly, rather than over-compensating for server heat loads, companies need to focus on what’s really important: air distribution around the servers. Nair predicts companies can shut off as many as 40 percent of data center air conditioners by redesigning air flow to target hotspots.
The customized AdaptivCool solution is patented Room Scale Intelligent Cooling (RSIC), a network of fans, sensors, and other components controlled and coordinated by a central computer. A combination delivers demand-based cooling and air distribution. The targeted solution saves money and has alerts to warn when situations change or temperatures or sever loads reach levels that require human attention.
CHANGING THINGS UP
Rather than increasing the grid’s power supply to data centers, utility companies are offering rebates and incentives for reducing demand. Options range from replacing inefficient air chillers and handlers or installing software to monitor equipment. Projects can cost several hundred thousand dollars but may qualify for grants and rebates as much as 70 percent of the price tag.
It may sound peculiar but energy suppliers from electric utilities to oil/gas companies are looking to grow by actually selling LESS – improving productivity instead of throwing more carbon-producing power at inefficient systems.
No wonder companies are remaking their data centers, looking to increase performance, lower operating costs and create room for growth. Experts use key measures such as Power Utilization Effectiveness (PUE) and other abbreviations – because it turns out even air shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Spotfire Blogging Team
Image Credit: Microsoft Office Clip Art