IBM Plans $360M Cloud Data Center in NC

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IBM will build a $360 million data center at its facility in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina to power cloud computing applications for customers, the company announced today. The new facility will incorporate IBM’s latest approaches to energy-efficiency, modular design and high-density computing.

While Amazon, Microsoft and Google build their own cloud platforms, IBM is focused on building cloud data centers in which its enterprise customers can run their own applications. The Research Triangle Park (RTP) facility will provide up to 60,000 square feet of raised floor space that can be customized for IBM customers. The project is part of a broader cloud computing initiative unveiled today by IBM, which also includes a new cloud computing center in Tokyo.

IBM will renovate an existing warehouse building on its RTP campus for the new data center, which will be the first in the world to be built with IBM’s New Enterprise Data Center design principles. This approach provides internet-scale computing capabilities, including power densities of up to 1,600 watts per square foot, along with IBM’s latest energy efficiency designs.

“We’ve got a fairly creative way we’re going to design this data center to maximize our energy usage,” said Joseph Dzaluk, IBM’s Worldwide Vice President for Infrastructure and Resource Management. “It will be guided by customer requirements, but we’ve designed it to segment different work loads and densities.”


Dzaluk said that IBM expects the RTP data center to become the company’s most energy efficient facility, with PUE and DCIE ratings “significantly better” than any other facilities in IBM’s massive network of 8 million square feet of data center space.

The design will use key technologies in IBM’s Big Green initiative for energy efficient data centers, including:

  • Variable-speed computer room air conditioners (CRACs)
  • “Free cooling” that incorporates outside air into the cooling process to better regulate the temperature of water used in chillers (water-side economization)
  • Water cooling technology, including IBM’s Cool Blue rear-door heat exchanger, which was recently judged to be among the most efficient systems from major vendors
  • Efficient management of water, including reusing it when feasible and capturing rain water on the roof of the facility

IBM is using the shell of the original warehouse building, but completely remaking the interior to support a scalable, modular design using the company’s recently announced Enterprise Modular Data Center. These modules allow IBM customers to build additional data centers in standardized 5,000 square feet modules, adding capacity as needed to spread the capital costs over time.

IBM’s design will also include its High Density Zone solution, which can use both water-cooled and air-cooled racks to optimize for the maximum energy efficiency.

“This new data center is part of IBM’s commitment to construct the world’s most advanced data centers,” said Bob Greenberg, general manager, IT Optimization, IBM. “This is the latest example of IBM’s deep history of innovation in North Carolina. When we open for business in late 2009, the IBM data center in Research Triangle Park will be a strategic location for our outsourcing business for years to come.”

The data center will provide dual-site backup and recovery offerings from IBM’s Business Continuity and Resiliency Services, in conjunction with IBM’s recently enhanced Boulder, Colorado data center.

IBM’s global cloud computing initiative features Cloud Computing Centers in Dublin, Ireland; Beijing, China and Johannesburg, South Africa. The company has provided cloud computing services to clients such as Wuxi City of China, Sogeti, the Local Professional Services Division of Capgemini, the Vietnamese government institutions and universities, and iTricity, a utility-based hosting service provider headquartered in the Netherlands.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief 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.