Dell Readies Major Cloud Hub in Quincy

At this afternoon's DellWorld event in Austin, Dell outlined plans to build a major new cloud hosting facility in Quincy, a major data center hub in Washington state. The company will use a heat wheel in the cooling systems for the new facility.

Rich Miller

October 12, 2011

3 Min Read
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Dell is getting busy in its global data center expansion to support its push into cloud computing services. This morning the company announced plans to open a new UK data center in Slough, a suburb of London. At this afternoon's DellWorld event in Austin, Texas, the company discussed its plans to build a major new cloud hosting facility in Quincy, a major data center hub in Washington state.

Both projects are part of Dell's initiative to invest $1 billion in building a fleet of 10 data centers around the world to host cloud services for customers.

Dell bought 80 acres of land in Quincy last year, and will launch a first phase of 40,000 square feet of data center space by the end of the year, Dell executives said. Like the new UK facility, the structure at the Washington state project will divided into two sections – a raised-floor area featuring rows of cabinets using hot aisle containment and in-row cooling units, and a second section with IT capacity deployed in Dell Modular Data Centers.

Some Modules Will Live Outdoors

But Dell will also deploy its modular data centers outdoors on specially prepared pads on its campus, which will allow the company to easily hook up power, network and cooling support. The outdoor deployment is not new, as Dell modules have been deployed outdoors to power Microsoft's Bing Maps service and the Janus supercomputer at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Quincy has become a magnet for data centers because of its abundant supply of cheap, “green” hydro power generated by area dams, with some companies paying as little as 2 cents per kilowatt hour for its power in Quincy. Because of the volume of electricity used by major data centers, the price of power has an outsized role in the site selection process. Quincy is also ideal for free cooling, in which companies use cool air from outside the building to cool the servers, rather than air conditioners.

That's why the small town is home to data centers for Microsoft, Yahoo and Intuit and new projects being built by Sabey and Vantage Data Centers.

"It's a phenomenal place to build a data center," said Don Mann, VP Infrastructure and Cloud Computing, Dell Services. Mann said that the Dell Quincy facility "Will have workloads dedicated and ready to go," when the site opens.

Heat Wheel to Support Cooling Systems

Dell said its Quincy site is "anticipated to become one of the world’s most efficient and environmentally responsible data centers." Melissa Richter, Executive Director for Data Center & Platform Services at Dell, said the cooling systems at the Quincy site will Dell will use a "heat wheel," also known as a rotary heat exchanger. The heat wheel is a refinement of existing approaches that take advantage of outside air to improve cooling efficiency - which slashes data center power bills by reducing the need to use power-hungry chillers for air conditioning.

Heat wheels have been used for many years in industrial air conditioning, but are relatively new in data centers. Heat wheels have been deployed in several locations in the Pacific Northwest, including a  data center for the state of Montana and a Bend Broadband facility in Oregon.

Richter said the Quincy site will be built to Tier III reliability, with the ability upgrade to Tier IV is needed. The first phase will have a power capacity of 14 megawatts, but with 80 acres, there's plenty of room to expand. Plans filed with local officials indicate Dell could build up to 325,000 square feet of data center space and deploy up to 28 backup generators.

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