Data center facilities pro

Dec 8 2008   4:20PM GMT

CRG West preps data centers for cloud computing customers

Matt Stansberry Matt Stansberry Profile: Matt Stansberry

John Savageau was appointed CTO of the colocation firm CRG West back in September. We recently caught up with Savageau to discuss how the job is going so far and what trends he’s seeing in the data center market.

Tell me about your new role at CRG West so far.
Savageau: Since we’ve been rapidly growing our footprint, I spend half my time talking to customers, and half talking to our operations staff. As we continue to build out our data centers, we have a lot more flexibility to design to the 200-watt per square foot world we’re dealing with today for utility compute farms. The cloud computing community is rapidly growing. We’re building facilities to translate those requirements.

What role is cloud computing playing in your planning?
Savageau: I’ve been a grid fanatic for years since SETI @ Home, bringing large numbers of distributed CPUs together to solve problems. I think it’s important to encourage the growth of cloud computing into our data centers. Cloud computing is a marriage of grid computing and SaaS, and we had better be thinking about attracting cloud computing companies (or even doing it ourselves in the future).

The ability to have elastic computing as close to the non latency points as possible is important.

What’s the relationship between cloud computing and latency issues?
Savageau: For example, in New York or Chicago, we’d like to have the ability to create a zero latency cross-connection point, a cloud environment where trading companies can do business at an exchange point. If you’re looking at traders, latency and transactions are synonymous with loss of money. You have to talk about latency in fractions of milliseconds. Companies losing transactions are losing money.

Or in the entertainment industry, we’re talking about video on demand. The less hops that occur, the less delay you put in between the origination and the end user eyeballs, the better the experience. Lowering latency is going to be critical in a digital world.

How is cloud computing changing your data center infrastructure strategy?
Savageau: The mechanical side is easier to deal with than the switching side. It’s mostly dealing with the watts per square foot. If we look at what server deployments look like for cloud companies, we’re talking about putting in 25 racks of Verari blade servers, which will require us to have 250-amp, three phase power.

We’ve learned a lot over the past few years in regards to deploying high density rooms. Now we understand that 100 amps of 208v, three phase power is the mechanical design to meet most customer requirements. But building high density is build-to-suit.

Believe it or not, build-to-suit gives companies a really great opportunity to start thinking green. If you’re not thinking green you’re hemorrhaging money and having a negative impact on the environment. Thinking green on deployment, building the best efficiency is a religion with us now.

On the data center deployment side, strategies like cold aisle containment, extraction of heat into sealed plenums can be a huge factor in how much it costs for you and your customer.

How is cold aisle containment working out in your data centers?
Savageau: We’re doing cold aisle containment, in all of our new deployments. We looked at hot aisle containment, but we prefer to spend our energy cooling the intake side of the servers. The primary consideration is providing cool intake to servers.

When you walk into the data centers, the cold air is completely sealed. The server doesn’t care how much heat is coming in the back end. If you concentrate your efforts on the cold air you’re going to have a much happier server. Cold aisle containment can reduce the electrical draw of cooling systems up to 25%. That makes the customer really happy.

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