Enterprise IT Watch Blog

Nov 15 2010   10:25AM GMT

A Data Center to Call Your Own: Building on a budget

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

If you thought your data center was overrun with data, imagine holding all of the information of over 500 million people, from the things they like to who they’re having a complicated relationship with this week. That’s right, the monster that is Facebook is running out of servers. Their solution? Toss some $450 million in pocket change to a new data center in North Carolina.

When we asked our members what their top considerations were when building a new data center, Technochic said that cooling methods and costs are definitely forerunners: “Being as ‘green’ and cost-efficient as possible plays a big role in this day and age.” Facebook and North Carolina’s governor, Bev Perdue, are taking this into consideration as well, “touting the data center’s environment friendliness and energy efficiency,” according to Mashable. Just what “innovative cooling and power management technologies” they plan to employ aren’t clear yet, though they are said to be “Facebook-developed.” Let’s just hope they won’t have to double the size of the data center amidst construction like the last time.

But Facebook isn’t the only company making headlines with their data center plans worthy of an episode of MTV’s Cribs, Apple’s $1B data center, also in North Carolina, made news in May 2009. This particular server farm also doubled in size during construction, making it about five times the size of Apple’s largest server facility, in California.

Lease to Own: Not just for TVs anymore

It’s always more fun to just get a new toy, but most companies don’t have a billion dollar data center budget at their disposal. In a market that grew 35% from 2006 to 2009, though, there is obviously something to owning your own data center versus leasing.

For one, building from the ground up means customization. Even two years ago – light years in technology time – building an energy efficient data center was at the forefront of people’s concerns. With data growth serving as the top concern for admins, data center power and cooling is a close second. Factors such as the increase of chip density, power consumption and heat dissipation, contribute to the changing standard for watts-per-square-foot usage in today’s data centers. Whereas in the later half of the 1980s 30 to 40 watts per square foot was acceptable, today’s accepted minimum hovers more around 150 watts per square foot, but reaching as much as 500 watts per square foot. It’s no longer a matter of if power usage should be lassoed, but when. As the Daily Journal of Commerce projects:

For many years, the data center world has been under the radar in terms of power usage, but as the demand for facilities continues to rise, the awareness of energy consumption also rises. In 2007, an EPA report to Congress demonstrated the data center market consumed approximately 61 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity — 1.5 percent of the total energy produced in the United States — and it projected consumption to reach 100 billion kilowatt-hours by 2011.

For most of us, exploring options such as DC over AC power, under-floor cooling, and solutions for more responsible data management could make all the difference for efficiency and eco-friendliness. Taking into consideration factors such as threats of natural disaster common in the area of the data center allows you to get creative with solutions. Anticipating future obstacles is probably one of the biggest money-savers in IT.

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

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