Posts made in March, 2012

Hidden costs in new data center designs

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Facilities Management, Industry Trends, Innovation, Site Improvement | 3 comments

I enjoyed watching one of the old “Top Gear” episodes recently that discussed the lifetime cost of ownership of the Land Rover as compared to the Prius.  The episode discussed the mining of the materials necessary for the batteries and how that impacted the real cost of each car.  The “Top Gear” hosts stated something to the effect that when you factored in what it costs to manufacture and properly dispose of the lithium batteries, the Land Rover was actually “greener” than the Prius. While there is debate whether what was said on “Top Gear” was true or not, it did get me to think about some of the new innovations that I’m seeing in data centers.  When I look at factors beyond the obvious operating costs, I find that some of the innovations have hidden costs that affect total cost of ownership.  Let’s look at some designs and explore the possible hidden costs....

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Stirling engines for data centers

Posted by on Mar 16, 2012 in Facilities Management, Innovation, Site Improvement | 0 comments

Stirling Engines For Data Centers Classified as an external combustion engine, a Stirling engine is one that runs off an external heat source. The Stirling engine was conceived in 1816 by Scottish engineer, Robert Stirling. If you look it up on Wikipedia, you will see that these engines use an external heat source and require a cooler source to expel waste heat. If you actually had to build one as a science project as we did, you likely discovered that it could run a small fan from the heat of your hand. This picture shows a Stirling engine you can get from 3B Scientific that does exactly that. Are Stirling engines practical for data centers? So, you have to think: We have hot air out of the back of the servers and a cooling source (usually chill water or cooling water). We could use Stirling engines to power fans to move air through a heat exchanger. Imagine if your data center used nothing more than waste heat to move the air in it. How much could you save? The Stirling engine could also be used to assist in the movement of cooling water to and from heat exchangers and towers or other heat sinks....

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Where contests are really won

Posted by on Mar 9, 2012 in Facilities Management, Incidents/Downtime, Leadership | 1 comment

Santiago Botero is a Colombian professional bicycle road racer.  He’s best known for winning the mountains classification in the Tour de France, and the World Championship Time Trial.  During the 2000 Tour de France, he kept a daily diary of his thoughts and progress for a newspaper back in Colombia.  What follows was his entry for a part of the race that took place in the mountains: “There I am all alone with my bike.  I know of only two riders ahead of me as I near the end of the second climb on what most riders consider the third worst mountain stage in the Tour.  I say ‘most riders’ because I do not fear mountains. After all, our country is nothing but mountains.  I train year-round in the mountains.  I am the national champion from a country that is nothing but mountains.  I trail only my teammate, Fernando Escartin, and a Swiss rider....

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The most important 2 seconds of your career

Posted by on Mar 2, 2012 in Facilities Management, Incidents/Downtime, Leadership, Training | 0 comments

The lights flicker, your phone starts making “message received” sounds, and the radio crackles with excited voices.  You recognize that something is not as it should be at the facility and you’re the person on duty with the responsibility to respond.  It becomes apparent that the power system is in distress.  The orders come over the radio to shift the “E” lineup to backup.  You run to the “E” power room and quickly move the switch to the backup power supply position.  You hear the breakers actuate, and then the unthinkable happens – the lights go out.  The ironic thing is that shortly after you turned the switch, your mind actually was pondering the possibility that you could have heard “D” instead of “E.”  And sure enough, the actual order, as it turns out, was to place D into backup and not E.  Your actions caused a loss of power to the facility, compounding the initial problem....

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