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Bumbling and Stumbling in the Data Center

What’s the klutziest thing you’ve ever done in a Data Center?

Over the years I’ve seen people drop tools, tangle patch cords and step into notched floor tiles.  Once when I was giving a Data Center tour a fellow was so intent to see how outside air was drawn into the HVAC system that he whacked his head on a viewing window.

I’ve encountered outages caused by clumsiness, too.  In one case a co-worker was lifting a floor tile and tilted the panel too steeply, causing it to separate from the suction-cup tile puller he was using and crash into the plenum below, slicing a fiber cable. Read More »

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Making Noise About a Quiet Data Center

I like touring Data Centers. Whether it’s a makeshift space with out-of-control cabling or a state of the art, innovative facility, I’m always curious to see how companies accommodate their computing equipment and tackle the inevitable challenges of space, power and cooling.

Ten years ago I visited a then-new Data Center in the western United States that had several interesting features.  Two elements – and the moments I discovered them – still stick with me.
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Taking the CUE to Reduce Carbon Emissions

More and more businesses these days are taking steps to reduce their carbon emissions.  (Cisco is one of them, as the company met a 25% greenhouse gas reduction goal last year and subsequently upped it to 40%.)

There are several compelling reasons for doing so – some philosophical and others pragmatic.  Here are a few:

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Bizarro On My Mind

Saturday morning wasn’t complete for me as a kid if it didn’t include a bowl of pre-sweetened cereal and time watching cartoons.  Challenge of the Super Friends was my favorite, thanks to its unforgettable opening sequence and the chance to see Superman, Batman and other heroes overcome the latest scheme by the Legion of Doom to take over the world.

One of the Legion’s intriguing villains was Bizarro – the imperfect duplicate of Superman with the blocky white face and backwards S on his chest.  Although the writers didn’t give poor Bizarro much personality beyond bad grammar – “Me have plan destroy Super Friends!” – my friends and I enjoyed debating how his backwards, bad-means-good perspective would express itself in everyday activities. Read More »

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Sniffing Out a Data Center’s PUE

Power Usage Effectiveness or PUE, is the most commonly used metric in Data Centers today.  Data Center industry organizations tout it, major companies brag about their scores, and energy efficiency certifications use it in their ratings.

Despite how thoroughly it has been embraced, though, it’s not without flaws.  In my opinion, they mostly stem from the fact that PUE is more complicated than it looks.  Although calculating the metric is a relatively straightforward exercise, the resulting score doesn’t tell you anything about the factors that influenced it.  Hence why it’s a bad idea to compare PUE among Data Centers.

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