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Home > iSGTW 16 April 2008 > iSGTW Feature - Cool rules for hot computing

Feature - Cool rules for hot computing


The efficiency of your data center can impact its efficacy and your bottom line.
Images courtesy of (clockwise from top left) photo blog 0001, skreuzer and pinguino.
Designing a new data center or retrofitting an old one is a complex process, but these six ideas will get you started in the right direction.

1. Decide whether you really need your own data center
Growing your computing infrastructure is challenging. Before you commit to your next upgrade, ask yourself, “Do I even need my own data center?”

As Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said at the Next Generation Data Center conference last year, unless you’re in an industry where having a highly efficient, in-house data center translates directly into revenue, you might be better off running your applications in someone else’s data center.

2. Weigh the costs and benefits of green design
The Green Grid, a consortium of information technology companies interested in improving data center energy efficiency, recommends right-sizing your infrastructure by eliminating redundant components, installing only the equipment you need to make your data center run today. According to the group’s Guidelines for Energy-Efficient Data Centers, right-sizing the infrastructure can save as much as 50 percent of the electric bill.

New technologies and advances in energy efficiency mean that time spent planning your data center can significantly impact its efficacy.
Images courtesy of (clockwise from top left) stan, johntrainor, pchow98 and Erwin Boogert
3. Improve flexibility by designing for closely coupled cooling
The concept of “closely coupled cooling” has moved in and out of fashion over the years in supercomputing centers. This approach allows for targeted cooling and control of hot spots, and can result in shorter air paths that require less fan power to move the cold air around the room.

4. Think about the floor tiles: it’s the little stuff that matters
Plan to minimize the profile of cables and pipes you put under the raised floor in your machine room. Another step you can take is to commission a fluid dynamics study of your data center, or buy the software you need to perform that study yourself.

5. Move support equipment outside
The Green Grid found that up to 25 percent of the electricity going into a data center is converted to heat in power distribution units, UPS equipment and switchgear. You can avoid the need to remove this heat by moving as much of your power and cooling equipment as possible out of your data center.

6. Monitor for power management
An infrastructure monitoring system for the power and cooling systems needs to be part of any upgrade you are planning. Actively managing and monitoring your energy usage will help you plan for the future and assess the effectiveness of steps you take to improve your data center’s efficiency.

- John E. West

Excerpted from Six Ways to a More Efficient Datacenter, published by CIO Magazine in September 2007.

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