Tech Vault: Small Company in Spotlight at Gartner

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Several rows of cabinets inside the Tech Vault data center in South Burlington, Vermont.

In a world of Big Data, bigger clouds and enormous server farms, is there room for niche providers with modest data centers? The answer is yes, as illustrated by TechVault, a managed hosting provider in South Burlington, Vermont. The company has built its business and its highly-efficient data center during a brutal economic downturn.

Tech Vault provides a range of services, but saw an opportunity in the market for electronic health records (EHR) for the healthcare industry. To take advantage of that demand, the company built a 6,500 square foot data center, one of just a handful of commercial facilities in the state. The facility, which opened in the fall of 2010, has gained Silver-level certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for green buildings.

Today Tech Vault will get a moment in the spotlight at the Gartner Data Center Conference, the largest industry conference for enterprise data centers. The company’s project will be featured in a joint session with Schneider Electric, which provided much of the technology supporting the Tech Vault facility.

Focus on Efficient Cooling

Tech Vault principal Jay Fayette said the partnerships with Schneider and Leading Edge Design Group were critical to the provider’s ambitions to build an energy efficient data center within an existing facility. The data center takes advantage of Vermont’s cool climate, using water-side economization to cool the facility for much of the year. The Tech Vault design features a 4,500 square foot server area and a separate 2,000 square foot area to house mechanical and electrical equipment.

A key element of the design is an in-row cooling system from APC by Schneider that uses a rear plenum to recirculate air, returning the waste heat to the cooling unit. The 7-inch rear plenum is contained, and runs the length of the 12-cabinet row, which also includes four APC in-row cooling units. This allows TechVault to house its cabinets on a slab floor and gain the benefits of containment without capping the aisles separating the cabinets.

This design allows Tech Vault to operate with a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) raning between 1.27 and 1.45, depending whether conditions allow it to use its economizer, which uses outside air to cool water used in the data center cooling system. The project is an early implementation of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure, an integrated approach that incorporates technologies from across the company’s portfolio. In addition to the APC cooling units and cabinets, Other Schneider products used by Tech Vault include an APC Symmetra UPS system, Square D swichgear and power panels, Pelco security cameras and biometric systems, and a Continuum One building management system.

TechVault spent $1.75 million on the project, which was completed in four months and earned $100,000 in incentives from Green Mountain Power. The facility will eventually be able to house as many as 102 cabinets of gear.

The annual Gartner Data Center Conference kicks off this morning with keynote presentations at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

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.

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