I just read a story about Sun Microsystems' new data center in Broomfield, CO. There were some interesting highlights in the blurb.
Reduced Electrical Consumption: By 1 million kWh per month, enough to power 1,000 homes in Colorado
While this is a great stat, where did the savings come from? What is the PUE? Sun rolled out the Blackbox product last year - Containers/Pods are the next wave of computing as far as I am concerned - and I'll bet the container is still more efficient and the power saved in a Blackbox would power 1,000 homes on the cooling alone. You double the cost and draw of electricity in cooling a data center so unless the environment is optimized to support heat dissapation and optimize cold air flow, you don't gain much.
Reduced Raised Floor Datacenter Space: From 165,000 square feet to less than 700 square feet of raised floor datacenter space, representing a $4M cost avoidance.
I used to walk through a raised floor data center every week in a previous job and I always wondered why they were all the rage. The amount of cold air under the floor that didn't do anything was astounding. I know the electricians had a better environment to work in, but at the end of the day, no one ever asked me 'What am I paying for my share of idle cold air?'. Cooling is a necessary evil, and an expensive one. Looking not at cooling but how heat is removed is the key.
Enhanced Scalability: Incorporated 7 MW of capacity that scales up to 40% higher without major construction
What the **** does that mean? Are they using high octane diesel in their Caterpillars? Funny car fuel? A four barrel carbuerator?
Superior Cooling: The world’s first and largest installation of Liebert advanced XD™ cooling system with dynamic cooling controls capable of supporting rack loads up to 30kW and a chiller system 24% more efficient than ASHRAE standards.
I love Lieberts - they work, they're reliable, and they mask poor design. In this series of Lieberts it appears that their offering is more modular, and more deployable into trouble/hot spots than its other offerings. That is great, however they do not put the draw into the technical documentation. Efficiency is great, but if it takes 30% more power to generate 10% cooler air in the same footprint, I don't see the value.
Greener Architecture: Including flywheel uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that eliminates all lead and chemicals waste by removing the need for batteries, and non-chemical water treatment system, saving water and reducing chemical pollution.
I wonder when someone will actually have the stones to say, Green is great until it doesn't work or it costs 1.5x what traditional (proven) technology can deliver. Case in point: I wonder what the carbon output of manufacturing a wind turbine is compared to the .3 megawatt it generates. The steel manufacturing (they don't use woodstoves or solar to melt metal), the wiring manufaturing (people dressed in hemp clothing, using bamboo shovels don't find wiring deposits), the lubricants, the shipping fuel... Blindly going green because it's trendy may not be the answer. Yet. Did you cut down to one square of toilet paper to save a tree? Me neither.
Overall Excellence: Recognized with two Ace awards for Project of the Year from the Associated Contractors of Colorado, presented for excellence in design, execution, complexity and environmental application.
But not efficency? How can give an award for data center design without efficiency being the most weighted category for judging it? It is like giving out an award for best dessert without tasting it.
I love that companies like Sun are pushing the envelope and I hope it continues. I just hope that common sense enters the equation and that an actual yardstick is used to measure what matters.