Being a big fan of Mikado biscuits (one of the key brands of
Jacob’s Biscuit), I have been watching with interest to see what would become
of the former Jacob’s
Biscuits factory outside of Dublin, Ireland, where they had been produced
for years before closing their doors in 2008. It was no surprise to me when Amazon bought the property and
announced plans to build a data center there. A site with adequate power, accessibility and location just 20 km from
other major data centers west of Dublin, it seems a logical site for Amazon's next data center in Ireland,
and very much in line with the trend to re-purpose existing sites as data
This trend has been going on for years and has included such
disparate projects such as the MareNostrum supercomputer in a former chapel in Barcelona, as well as an i/o co-location
data center which is ironically located inside a
former New York Times printing site in New Jersey.
Some are re-using the
existing super-structure and power infrastructure, which was NOT originally
built with data centers in mind, and installing purpose-built, modular data centers inside. This
allows them to truly match supply and
CSC Data Center in Finland is a prime example. Built inside a former
paper mill in Kajaani, the CSC data center makes use of the CommScope’s
Data Center on Demand (DCoD) to meet their needs on a modular, pay as
you grow basis.
Not only did CSC make
use of the capacious power infrastructure built up to support the original
paper mill, they also leveraged the crisp, year round weather prevalent
throughout most of Europe that allows direct
free air cooling. The combination of these enables a rapid and cost
effective data center roll-out, re-purposing our industrial heritage for the 21st century.
How has direct free air cooling come to be so accessible,
and why hasn’t it been used more widely
in the past?
As the second-largest energy expenditure in data centers (following
powered IT equipment), data center cooling
is closely scrutinized for any potential savings that can be achieved.
In the last decade, both the IT equipment and HVAC/Building
Services vendors have risen to the challenge, building upon work by organizations
such as ASHRAE’s
Technical Committee 9.9, which defined several different permissible
temperature and humidity ranges for the data center cold aisle.
In recent years, each ASHRAE-defined range, or operational
envelope, has been larger than the previous range resulting in lower cooling
costs. Both the IT equipment OEMS & the HVAC industry build their equipment
with these ASHRAE envelopes in mind with recently designed IT equipment rated
for the less onerous ASHRAE A2A or A3A. An example of this is the Dell Fresh Air Server.
Similarly the newer data center HVAC systems coming on
stream capitalize on these envelopes with cold aisle/hot aisle containment,
direct free air cooling, and adiabatic cooling, as offered in CommScope’s DCoD
The convergence of these two technical trends, enabling the use of wider temperature and humidity
ranges, provides tremendous savings on the cost of conditioning the cold
aisle air, and as we have seen with the CSC data center, omits the need to
install a chiller to cool.
Of course, all of this could change if Microsoft makes good
on their plan to build data
centers under the sea. This seems a ways off, but until then look for the trend of
repurposing existing sites, and adopting direct free air cooling to continue.
Have you looked into direct free air cooling
for your data center?