Modern Data Centers Faster, More Energy Efficient

by | Jan 8, 2015

Facebook data centerInnovations in modern data center design have been shepherded by the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft and include improvements to power supply and distribution, more flexible hardware, new cooling methods and cloud-oriented server design. An article in InformationWeek highlights some of the more recent data center innovations that are being implemented by conventional enterprises.

Centercore data center implementations are made up of steel modules that can be snapped together horizontally or stacked vertically like Lego blocks. Each unit has its own power distribution, fire suppression and security. A “just-in-time” core unit can be added to expand the data center only by the amount needed, so building for projected growth is unnecessary.

Fidelity Investment deployed its second Centercore data center last year. The new data centers are expected to save the mutual fund giant 40 percent in electricity costs compared to older data centers.

With a focus on grid independence, eBay’s South Jordan, Utah, data center uses natural gas-powered fuel cells. Because the price for natural gas deliveries can be locked in for up to 15 years, the design provides an option with consistent, predictable costs. The Utah power grid serves as backup supply for the data center.

Apple’s data center in Maiden, North Carolina, uses a 5-MW fuel cell system for a portion of its electrical supply, but adds solar, wind and biogas generation options into the mix.

Other recent data center innovations are being achieved through the Open Compute Project. Founded by Facebook, the project released a reference model for an open-source top-of-rack (ToR) switch in 2014, which Facebook implemented at its Altoona, Iowa, data center. Broadcom, Intel, Mellanox and Accton have also submitted ToR designs.

Smaller obstacles to a software-defined data center are also being addressed by the Open Compute Project. Canonical and Cumulus Networks collaborated on the Open Network Install Environment to provide an open source path for laying down a network operating system.

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