Popular IT blogger Phil Windley, the former CIO for the state of Utah, recently had a briefing with IBM on data center issues. This included the chalenge of cooling high-density server space in data centers, on which Phil made these observations:
Power and cooling are a shell game. You solve it at the CPU level by moving it to the chassis. You solve it in the chassis by moving it to the rack. You solve it in the rack by moving it to the data center. Many data centers start off with good air handling set-ups, but, like anything else, unless they're maintained and re-evaluated from time-to-time, over time the performance degrades and the data center just can't take the load. As a result, the shell game comes full circle and some of the heat that started out in the server is pulled right back in with the cooling air instead of being taken out of the data center and dumped.
As Phil notes, a holistic view of the problem is required to avoid a partial fix. Another take on a familiar and important issues for data center designers and operators.