Sun Unveils 'Eco Responsible' Data Centers

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Sun Microsystems (SUNW) now has green data centers to go with its Blackbox. Sun unveiled new energy-efficient data centers today in Santa Clara, Calif., Blackwater, U.K.; and Bangalore, India, which have collectively reduced 267,000 square feet of data center space worldwide into approximately 133,000 square feet. The company says the consolidation will save 4,100 tons of CO2 per year and trim 1 percent from Sun’s total carbon footprint.

The 76,000 square foot Santa Clara datacenter is the largest of the three, and underwent a hardware consolidation and refresh that increased computing power by 450 percent while saving $1.1 million in energy costs a year, according to Sun. That was followed by design improvements that the company estimates will yield an additional 30 percent savings in energy costs. The effort gained Sun nearly $1 million in rebates from local utility Silicon Valley Power.

The data center enhancements are part of Sun’s broader Eco Innovation Initiative to showcase the company’s energy efficient products and services. This includes an interactive Flash tour that provides a step-by-step review of the company’s consolidation of 202,000 square feet of California data center space into the Santa Clara facility. The company has also posted case studies of the consolidation and redesign process for all three data centers on a section of its web site dedicated to “eco responsible data centers.”


Sun used a modular “pod” approach to the Santa Clara design, and opted to forego a raised floor in favor of placing the equipment directly on the slab. $1 million cost. “We’ve discovered that as you move to higher density racks, the raised floor can actually cause problems because it’s less predictable,” said Sun design engineer Mike Ryan. Sun used two cooling configurations featuring technologies from leading vendors Liebert and APC.

Part of the data center used an overhead spot cooling approach using Liebert XD units suspended from the ceiling (as opposed to sitting atop the cabinet). Sun also built part of its new facility with an APC hot aisle containment system (which prevents the warm air from the hot aisle from mingling with the cooler air meant for the equipment) along with APC in-row chilled water cooling units.

“New standards in datacenter design and management are not only good for the environment, but they are also good for a company’s bottom line,” said Sun Microsystems CIO Bob Worrall. “Most CIOs don’t even see an energy bill, which makes little sense given that datacenters can consume a significant portion of a company’s total energy draw. By working together, CIOs and CFOs can direct their efforts to successfully squeeze ‘green’ into – and out of – the datacenter.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.