New HP Data Center Will Test Green Technology

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Rows of cabinets inside the new HP research data center in Fort Collins, Colorado.

If you designed a facility to answer all your questions about data center design and operations, what would it look like? It might look a lot like a new data center that HP is unveiling today in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The Fort Collins facility will double as a working data center and a testbed for researching the most efficient and sustainable approaches for operating data centers. HP has consolidated workloads from 13 older data centers into the new site.

The research facility will feature 50,000 square feet of data center space, split between two identical data halls and configured to allow HP to test dozens of variables about temperature, humidity, air pressure and data center design.

Testing ‘What If’ Questions

It’s a proving ground for answering the many “what if” questions that have emerged as the industry seeks to push boundaries and test long-standing assumptions about data center environments. The project will also provide HP the ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of new equipment and approaches to data center efficiency – including HP’s Converged Infrastructure architecture.

“This whole data center is about creating sustainable data center testing at scale, to help create the most efficient and sustainable facility possible,” said Doug Oathout, Vice President of Green IT for HP.”“We can adjust what work is being done where, and change air or temperature and humidity in different parts of the data center. One of the leys to this data center is that it’s converged so we can move workloads around.”

The ability to detect and manage shifting workloads within a data center is an important capability as enterprises shift large chunks of their IT infrastructure to consolidated environments or cloud computing designs that feature highly virtualized environments.

HP has built its new research facility with multiple efficiency technologies to gauge their effectiveness, including the most efficient way to combine various energy management strategies.

Multiple Economizer Systems

The Fort Collins data center will be equipped with both air-side and water-side economization systems, as well as both hot aisle and cold aisle containment systems. The data center will be equipped with more than 8,000 environmental sensors, which can provide feedback to a central management system that can dynamically adjust the cooling system.

“We want to match cooling with the work we do, and we can cap the power,” said Oathut.

In addition, the facility will house the HP Labs Sandbox, a research environment that is isolated both environmentally and electronically from the rest of the facility. The Sandbox serves as a test bed for new sustainability technology from HP Labs.

HP Critical Facilities Services designed the new facility,while HP ProLiant servers, HP Integrity Servers, HP BladeSystem, and HP StorageWorks systems will be used to support research and sustainability advancements.

“Our clients are seeking sustainable, affordable data center technologies that will effectively change the energy equation,” said Tom Christian, principal research scientist of the Sustainable Ecosystems Research Group at HP. “The new Fort Collins research facility advances the development of solutions that address CIOs most pressing needs, including lowered energy consumption and reduced costs.”

The Fort Collins location was selected for the dry climate, which allows HP to use economizers for 75 percent of the time in the winter, and 25 percent of the time in the summer. Local officials were excited about HP’s site selection.

“Enterprises across the country are looking for sustainable IT solutions that help them improve their bottom line by decreasing environmental impact, power consumption and costs,” said John Hickenlooper, governor of Colorado. “The groundbreaking research taking place at HP’s Fort Collins facility demonstrates that Colorado is leading the country in developing environmentally focused solutions. These kinds of efforts will eventually help companies become more sustainable, improving both energy use and the environment.”

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.

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