The Raised Floor Perspective- Customer Appreciation

This is geared toward the colocation side of the data center world.

Working in such an engineering based and high tech field it is easy to forget what really allows us to bring home the bacon, our customers. Colocation data centers would not exist without the customers to fill them up. While you may have good customers and difficult ones, we should all approach our business with them in mind. Now I am not going to get into a philosophical conversation whether “the customer is always right” or not. This is not the time or place. I will focus on small changes that will help out the customers and in turn the data center staff.

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Earth Day!! What’s a data center to do?

Earth Day Flag

Happy Earth Day! I just wanted to take some time to acknowledge this occasion and what I think it means to data center operators.

 

Earth Day started around 1970 and when it gained traction, the idea was to educate and inform while celebrating our planet. Well in that vein, I did some reading today on energy efficiency and conservation. Where else, besides in heavy industry, do we have the opportunities to save millions of kWh a year? Lots of different estimates of energy consumption exist, but roughly 1.5-2% of all energy is spent in data centers in the United States (good luck finding a solid source for that number). And as IT becomes a bigger sector of the economy, so too has the consumption of data centers increased. These old centers give us so many opportunities.

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Uptime Institute Network Conferance

This week I had the pleasure of presenting at the Uptime Institutes Group 3 and 5 network Conferance with my colleague John Gray. First, let me thank the Uptime Institute for the opportunity and also the terrific audience. We received terrific feedback and engaged in some really great discussions. I would also like to thank the other presenters for their fantastic presentations, especially the team from Thompson Reuters who presented on two fantastic topics and the Fidelity team for hosting and providing great input to the group. What a week!

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Is airline travel too safe?

I just read an interesting article providing a nice contrarian perspective on airline travel domestic and abroad. It compares the cost of a life saved relative to money spent in other areas. Keep in mind, I’m writing this at the airport so I am painfully considering the implications of the points I am making. While this may seem ludicrous at first, the idea of making something less safe, I realized that this might help me make an interesting point effectively, one that I struggle to articulate. The article points out how more effective spending on vaccines, safety belts in cars, and other areas of our lives relate to the money spent on aviation safety. Because of very effective FAA regulations, poor countries spend a lot of money on aviation safety while school children are unvaccinated and traffic deaths occur at significantly higher rates.

So what point, relating to data centers, could I be getting at? Are we spending money in the most effective manner to realize high availability. Much like the net loss of life in poor countries would be lower if they allocated resources where they have the most impact, so too we can improve our loss of compute by investing where impacts are highest.

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The Raised Floor Perspective- Making the Rounds

The data center can have a wide array of foot prints. Centers have grown over the decades from small closets, operating in corners of office buildings, to large multi floor buildings with the only function of housing the computing equipment. Based on company size and needs, centers can range from large ware house size enterprise data centers to small cage footprints in a larger colocation center. With many highly advanced building monitoring systems being utilized by data centers today to operate, nearly all aspects of the center can monitored, and sometimes operated, by viewing one monitor screen. With this in mind my focus is on a topic that can easily be forgotten in this high tech industry, the human aspect. No matter how high tech or how much money we put into a program, they will never be all encompassing and eliminate the need to go out and visually inspect the various facets of the data center. I feel that over the course of time, however, we have come to rely on our technology and the advantages of physically looking at something have been neglected. Continue reading The Raised Floor Perspective- Making the Rounds

Chill water resets

Do you have a chiller plant? Is your air handling equipment operating at some level below 100%? You can probably benefit greatly from a chill water reset, especially if you operate with a largely sensible load (like a data center!). Even if you have latent cooling, the latent capacity is not impacted as much as you think by higher chill water temperatures. The coils leaving air temperature is what determines how well the air handler removes humidity as that air is typically at saturation. So as long as you are meeting your air temperatures set point, latent capacity is not impacted.

So what of the chill water reset? Well, ASHRAE recommends, in a series of articles co- authored with Taylor Engineering, the use of a chill water temperature reset followed by a chill water d/p reset.
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NPV Calculator

For all those looking for some easy peasy NPV calculations I put together a spreadsheet. Please note, I am always open to improvement so if you see something that can make it better please let me know.

Just fill in the yellow boxes (I have locked down discount rate at 10% and inflation at 3%, if you know enough to want to play with that let me know and I will give you the unlock password).  Select 10 or 15 year project life, and the spreadsheet will auto manipulate. This is focused around energy savings projects but you can use anything with a cash flow that will accelerate with inflation.

NPV calculator simplified

Chill Out – Battle of Aisle Containment

From time to time I have heard a lot of heated discussions on which aisle containment solution is better. No doubt aisle containment is an effective way to improve airflow management and enhance efficiency. From cold aisle to hot aisle, full to partial containment, passive or active hot chimney, each camp has its own supporters and opponents. With every operating data center having its own constraints, the key is to adopt an approach that find a balance between effectiveness, cost and what can realistically be done in that data center.  Here I outline some common containment strategies for a typical data center white space with raised floor, using downflow air supply, top return with perimeter CRAC/CRAH units. Continue reading Chill Out – Battle of Aisle Containment

Spring is coming

Spring is coming. Will your data center be a spring chicken or an old bird? As the weather begins to warm (hopefully) this is a great opportunity to take stock of your data center and it’s economizer system and operation.

We have this sensor, we call it the million dollar sensor. Now how can a single sensor be worth a million dollars? The answer is simple, really, it’s the outside air temperature and humidity sensor, and we have selected it such that many of the problems with other sensors, particularly humidity, are eliminated. By having a highly accurate sensor, we can reduce the margins for the economizer to engage ( for instance, return air temperature plus 2 degrees instead of 4) and have knowledge that we won’t be what I call “anti-economizing” where the air we bring in has more enthalpy than the air exiting the building.

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