By focusing on improving the efficiency of IT equipment and looking at the data center as a "holistic organism," Caltech was able to eliminate two CRAC units completely out of the data center. Now operating on one 16-ton, chilled-water CRAC, the organization was able to re-deploy an existing CRAC infrastructure - an 18-ton unit - as backup.
Eight tons of the 18-ton unit is a portable DX unit and is set up to switch on automatically if the temperature goes above 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the cold aisle. If the temp in the hot aisle goes above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, a system kicks in to route the hot air out of the building using the rooftop CRAC unit’s fresh air duct.
By focusing on improving the efficiency of IT equipment, Caltech saw ripple effects on the cooling infrastructure-- i.e. less IT gear to cool means lower cooling requirements. All too often, organizations buy into vendor sales pitches that existing cooling infrastructure is inefficient and needs to be upgraded. But solely focusing on cooling and power infrastructure misses the most important part of the problem. Practitioners should develop efficiency strategies understanding the opportunities to improve IT equipment which will in turn lower cooling and power demands.
There are many ways to deal with IT equipment inefficiencies but no one silver bullet. Techniques include but are not limited to:
- Virtualizing Servers and storage,
- "Densifying" racks,
- Refreshing technology using more energy efficient equipment,
- Redesigning rack and equipment,
- Optimizing workload distribution,
- Making air flow work better,
- Creating hot/cold aisles and containing hot and cold air.
All these factors can improve PUE and get rid of inefficient equipment and supporting infrastructure.
Every computer room is different. Eugean Hacopians of Caltech suggests that an IT center is a living organism that needs to be assessed individually. By being creative lots of unneeded equipment can be eliminated, often inexpensively with excellent ROI.
Action Item: By focusing on power and cooling infrastructure only, practitioners will miss the most important part of the IT equation-- IT equipment. Organizations need to look at data centers as a type of living, breathing organism and identify the areas that will give the most bang for the buck. This means starting with IT equipment which will in turn reduce requirements for power and cooling infrastructure.