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IBM sells RackForce on Enterprise Modular Data Center

The new green data center at hosting company RackForce will use hydropower for primary power and natural gas to help run backup generators.

Canadian hosting company RackForce has built a 150,000-square-foot data center in British Columbia, Canada, with the new Enterprise Modular Data Center, which IBM announced last week. Once in place, it will be the largest so-called green data center in the country, according to RackForce.

For more on green data centers:
The green data center: Energy-efficient computing in the 21st century

The green data center 2.0: Beyond best practices

Thinking green, data center aims for LEED certification

RackForce will build its fourth data center in conjunction with its sister company gigaCENTER Service Corp., which is a data center infrastructure company. The facility will have 70,000 square feet of raised-floor space built out in 12 modules of a little more than 5,000 square feet each.

The company is building the facility to have a data center efficiency power usage effectiveness (PUE)/data center infrastructure efficiency (DCIE) rating of 1.38/73% using hot-aisle/cold aisle, cold-aisle containment, water cooling and 20-foot ceilings that enable hot server exhaust air to rise quickly. According to the Uptime Institute, a typical data center has a PUE/DCIE of 2.5/40%. The first two modules will be in place by December, with the rest being constructed in phases over the next three years. RackForce customers can rent out servers, cabinets, even an entire module.

Power density will begin at 100 watts per square foot, with room to expand to 300 watts per square foot, which is considered a high-density data center. "IBM has done all the engineering and worked closely with us from the beginning with the concept and market demand," RackForce Vice President Brian Fry said.

The company has employed additional environmentally friendly features to make the site greener. Its primary power -- 20 megawatts of it -- will come from Canadian utility company Fortis Inc., which produces hydropower from a series of dams on the Okanagan Lake and River, which eventually feeds into the Columbia River in Washington State.

As for backup power, RackForce plans to run its generators – when they're needed – on 85% natural gas, and 15% diesel. Fry said the new facility is on a piece of land with "enormous natural gas pipelines going through it." The company will use diesel fuel to get its generators up and running quickly and then switch over to natural gas. In addition to the fact that natural gas is cleaner for the environment than diesel, Fry said it's also more reliable. While the natural gas is right there on site, diesel is trucked in, and shipments might get disrupted in an emergency.

RackForce has also been a big user of server virtualization and will continue to use that to increase CPU utilization on its servers to waste less power. Fry said that 60% of RackForce's servers are virtualized with VMware, Virtuozzo and Microsoft Virtual Server.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer. You can also check out our Server Specs blog.

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