In response to rising energy costs, SearchDataCenter.com recently published a series of articles on the price of power in the data center. The topics covered in the report affected many in the IT community and several readers responded to the articles. Here is a sample of the responses.
Facility managers speak out
Great article! However, Vern Brownell summed it all up…IT has to communicate with facilities. They, IT, have this habit of making decisions that have an impact on several items downstream that they are not responsible for, i.e. infrastructure for the complete facility…electrical, central plant, generator, etc. The appearance is that they have to be reactive and take charge of the situation. However, the fact of the matter is that they create the situation because of their lack of knowledge and experience with the power and cooling infrastructure.
IT should not be purchasing or installing any electrical and/or cooling equipment within the data center. They clearly have no knowledge or experience of the powering and cooling of the data center or there wouldn't be a need for them to "REACT", to save the day, due to their lack of communication with the facility department.
I realize that reliable crystal balls are hard to come by these days. However, IT needs to develop and/or predict to their best guess what the long range power, space, and cooling requirements will be, i.e. how many cabinets, how much power…facilities will take care of the power/cooling infrastructure, determine space availability, and location (based on heat and air flow).
You would never guess that I'm a facility manager…would you?
Recirculation working in Denmark
All the power that goes into a data center is converted into heat. A major part of the world population is worrying about how to get enough heat, because we burn fuel to warm our houses and offices. Since most of the costs in telecommunication networks are related to switching and not to transmission of bits, it is obvious to move these data centers to places where they can provide heat for the nearby community, and thus remove or reduce their cooling costs.
This kind of synergy, where industry or agriculture provides the heat to warm up the communities nearby, already exists. For instance, one of the big electricity producers in Denmark had a huge tomato production farm together with the electricity plant - all the surplus heat went for the tomatoes. Most of the inner city of Copenhagen is heated from the electricity plant. A large part of Denmark has heat pipes in the ground to transport heat to homes and offices from heat producing places.
For more info on natural gas
As both a software developer and an informed citizen on the future energy crisis and peak oil, I am excited for the next 3 installments of your article. If you are ever looking for more information on natural gas, I recommend Global Public Media for more information.
DC power getting play
I didn't see any mention of the power loss and heat generation is due to thousands of power supplies in each data center. If data center racked computers used DC power, the power conversion takes place in one area, and only heat generated by power usage is generated in the data center. This reduces power losses due to multiple AC/DC conversions, as well as the heat generated in those conversions. Less heat means less air conditioning is needed, so less power there too.
This is such a simple thing to do as well. Most huge telecom or carrier grade equipment is built for -48vdc operations. The ROI for running DC data centers is even money in very few months of operation. The equipment already exists, so it's not new, just needs to be implemented.
Additionally, when your data center power is DC, the AC source can be from anywhere, meaning that if you find a local generation facility that is cheap to run, you can reduce the amount of energy that you have to purchase from the grid.
The trick to making air conditioning units efficient is not generating the heat in the first place. Despite what CPU heat there is, power conversion accounts for huge amounts of data center heat.
[Editor's note: See part four.]
The way it is
…and according to experts and IT pros, those prices aren't going to come down any time soon. [From part one]
Let's be realistic, they won't come down...ever. If they can get another 20% out of you this year, do you think they're going to drop it 20% next year after the "crisis"? Ten percent even? No way. Just like any other energy business that is at a near-monopoly level (gasoline), they can raise it whenever they feel like it and blame it on whatever they want.
What are you going to do, go to the competition? In the area I live in (Midland, Michigan) and the surrounding cities (Saginaw, Bay City, Flint, etc) we get ONE choice for gas and electricity -- Consumer's Energy. That's it. You don't like their service or prices? Tough shit. You're stuck. There have been "alternative companies" in the past, but all they do is resell energy for Consumers Energy -- it's all going through the same pipes and wires. It sucks, but that's the way it is.
Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Matt Stansberry, News Editor