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Data Center Constructed!

April 15, 2011 at 5:01 am PST

 

Overture, curtains, lights…

We’re formally opening a new Data Center today here at Cisco.  In light of that, let’s forgo Data Center Deconstructed’s usual video Q&A and spend some time kicking the site’s proverbial tires.

Located in Allen, Texas, the new Data Center is a tier 3 facility with a 38,000 sq. ft. (3,530 sq. m.) hosting area and powered by redundant 10 MW feeds providing 5.25 MW of capacity for IT.

An overhead view of Cisco's new tier 3 Data Center in Allen, Texas.

I participated in several of the design meetings for the Data Center and am enthusiastic about a lot of the features that have been incorporated into its design.  (No surprise, the facility uses all of the green strategies I discussed in Energy Efficiency Makes Two Kinds of Green and then some.)  A few of my favorite features:

  • The active-active configuration.  The Allen Data Center is linked to another tier 3 Data Center in Richardson, Texas, so each facility is a primary Data Center that also serves as a secondary facility for the other.  Cisco calls the pair a Metro Virtual Data Center – I call it really hard to knock offline.  (We like this model so much that we’re planning to build similar pairs in other theaters.)
  • The server cabinets.  As shown in the image below, the Data Center’s cabinets have exhaust chimneys that allow hot air generated by hardware to flow into a plenum space and avoid mixing with incoming chilled air.  This helps the cooling system operate more efficiently.  (We used a similar design in our Richardson Data Center, too.)
  • A rotary UPS.  If anything in a Data Center’s standby infrastructure is going to fail it’s the batteries, so I’m happy to dispense with a static UPS at this site.  The rotary UPS contains a large, spinning flywheel and in the event of a utility power failure that kinetic energy will supply several seconds of ride-through power, long enough to transfer the Data Center’s electrical load to standby generators.

Enclosed cabinets with vertical exhaust ducts (chimneys) help isolate hot and cold airflow.

These are some of my favorites, but they’re just part of what this Data Center has to offer.  For a deeper look, check out the interactive videos and detailed case study about the facility.  Happy viewing!

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Energy Efficiency Makes Two Kinds of Green

March 23, 2011 at 10:00 am PST

Would you believe you can have yourself a pretty successful business upgrading office buildings with more energy-efficient light bulbs and timers to switch off heating and cooling systems after hours?

I worked as a newspaper reporter for much of the 1990s.  I wrote an article in 1993 about how the city of Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County had hired a firm to retrofit its field services office with new lighting, timers and other energy-efficient solutions.  The improvements were expected to save about $70,000 per year.

What always intrigued me about the story was that the company that performed the upgrades not only allowed Santa Clarita to incrementally pay for the improvements out of the savings from lowered utility bills but also guaranteed those savings would more than offset the price tag of the improvements in 5 years.  If the savings didn’t materialize, the company would pay the shortfall back to the city.

Everyone wins.  The company performing the upgrades gets paid for doing the upgrade work, the city saves money on its utility bills for years to come and the environment is better off due to reduced energy consumption and associated carbon emissions.

Now, consider that modern Data Centers can have power densities 50 to 100 times those of conventional office buildings.  How much greater green -- both financial and environmental kind - can be had by saving energy in those environments?  With that in mind, here is an overview of several strategies being implemented in Data Centers to make them greener.

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Energy as a Service is Closer than Ever

IP Energy Cisco White PaperIn the spirit of follow where the data leads you; how thoughtful are we in how we plan for and manage the data center?  As an IT industry we spend a lot of time debating what a data center is and how much of an impact it may have on productivity, competitive advantage, security, business continuity and as of late ecologic impact.  This is perhaps why the most senior, challenge-loving type A’s focus their careers on data centers. 

Whatever your definition, a data center represents the physical manifestation of our digital behaviors across a range of activities.  Data centers also support the most mission critical of all our “day job” applications; web services, email, payroll and so on.  So why is it that our “IT” industry is not aggressively applying more collaborative ingenuity to real world challenges?  A complex question of course but what we are happy to share today is an example of what we’ve been able to do over the last year.

Built on a foundation of Cisco Energy Management Technologies and Services we were able to save $1M USD in one year across 11 labs.  While this is only a pilot, it serves as a proof of concept for things to come…

The case study and white paper now available…

Read More »

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Data Center Energy Case Study

IP Energy Cisco White PaperIn the spirit of follow where the data leads you; how thoughtful are we in how we plan for and manage the data center?  As an IT industry we spend a lot of time debating what a data center is and how much of an impact it may have on productivity, competitive advantage, security, business continuity and as of late ecologic impact.  This is perhaps why the most senior, challenge-loving type A’s focus their careers on data centers. 

Whatever your definition, a data center represents the physical manifestation of our digital behaviors across a range of activities.  Data centers also support the most mission critical of all our “day job” applications; web services, email, payroll and so on.  So why is it that our “IT” industry is not aggressively applying more collaborative ingenuity to real world challenges?  A complex question of course but what we are happy to share today is an example of what we’ve been able to do over the last year.

Built on a foundation of Cisco Energy Management Technologies and Services we were able to save $1M USD in one year across 11 labs…or data centers depending on your definition.  While this is only a pilot, it serves as a proof of concept for things to come…

The case study and white paper now available…

Read More »

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