Story image

Exclusive: Aruba lays bare its data centre cooling operations

03 Oct 18

Data centre cooling has become one of the most important aspects of the industry, largely because it is the hungriest power consumer.

Various studies purport cooling to represent 40-50 percent of the total energy bill for data centres, while a report from Climate Home News states that data centres will account for the usage of one fifth of all the electricity in the world by 2025.

Recently we were able to sit with an executive from one of the big data centre operators to get an idea of what’s under the hood at their facilities.

According to Aruba S.p.A head of engineering Lorenzo Giuntini, their data centres use a combination of groundwater and dynamic free-cooling systems to keep hardware temperature under control, while reducing energy waste and increasing efficiency.

“The dynamic free-cooling system is the result of an extremely efficient containment of the flows of incoming cold air and outgoing hot air. Special ducts ensure that the cold air is only used for the front area of the rack, which is isolated from the data room,” says Giuntini.

“With the low temperatures, dynamic free cooling allows us to save energy by using the outside air, filtered accordingly, to cool the server room. The hot air is expelled from the building via large fans, with electric shutters opening and closing as required. Heat exchangers are located on the roof of the building to reduce noise impact.”

Giuntini says there are many advantages to free cooling systems.

“Just as computers generate heat, the data centres that contain the servers that power our emails and data sharing culture also generate a lot of heat. As a result, finding the right cooling solution is important, not least because of the effect of overheating on performance and potential damage to hardware,” says Giuntini.

“The system is cost efficient, with cooling only provided where needed, and also environmentally-friendly. For example, with the groundwater system, the water is returned to the ground, on completion of the process, without any chemical alterations. The system is also flexible. The completely redundant system can be assisted or replaced by the air/water chillers in the emergency circuit, capable of ensuring the same cooling power as the primary system.”

In terms of what the future holds for the cooling, Giuntini believes currently not many people fully understand what free cooling actually is and how it works.

“However, with new regulation, mainly the ASHRAE 90.1, free cooling will soon be a requirement for all new data centres,” says Giuntini.

“This means data centres will not be able to use the old mission criticality argument – that free cooling will impact reliability – to avoid incorporating free cooling into their design. Put simply, free cooling will be more widely adopted as time goes on.”

Giuntini says regardless of how effective large industrial equipment like pumps, chillers, and cooling towers can be, they are simply unsustainable when it comes to efficiency.

“Also, with the rising cost, many data centre operators are now realising that this level of energy consumption cannot continue to rise indefinitely and are taking steps to make their facilities more energy-efficient,” says Giuntini.

“A study from The Green Grid of data centres (mostly in the US) shows that almost half are now using natural cooling to save energy and cost. Another quarter are considering doing the same in the near future.”

AWS tops all four global markets, APAC a unique case
The order of proceedings remains relatively the same in three of the four major regions for public cloud services providers, but the APAC market is bolstered by the prominence of China.
What Brexit? Equinix invests £90m in new London data centre
The company is confident Brexit will have no impact on the data centre market in London, with its total investment in the London metro area exceeding £930m.
Datacentres Ireland gets the ball rolling in Dublin
Ireland’s largest dedicated gathering of suppliers for data centres today opened in Dublin and is set to span two days.
Huawei obtains world’s first PUE test certificate for modular data center product
Huawei is supposedly committed to providing users with green, efficient and reliable data center energy solutions.
Five secrets – Workday’s 2019 winning formulas
We thoroughly investigate why business software vendor Workday believes 2019 will be their best year yet.
Exclusive: Strengths and limitations of the AWS/Cisco partnership
Iguazio CEO Yaron Haviv discusses whether the partnership really is a 'match made in heaven' and what it means for the industry.
Google Cloud CEO stepping down to welcome ex-Oracle exec
Google Cloud has grown significantly under Greene's tenure, but has involved tens of billions of dollars and little gains on AWS and Azure.
Mobile Infrastructure market sees fastest growth since 2014
The report from Dell’Oro shows that while the vendor rankings for the top three vendors remained unchanged with Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia leading.