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Power Shift: Why Data Centers Must Control Water Use, Part 2

As water-cooled servers increasingly enter the market, it is not enough to merely say a data center offers low-water cooling systems.

Marcus Moliteus, LEED AP, is Director of Sales Engineering at Aligned Energy.

Reliability is a key characteristic of most data centers. I’ve experienced many complex systems designed to deliver 100 percent uptime, but ironically they often lead to more failures because human error is usually the root cause. Simple and efficient designs make a lot more sense from a reliability perspective, both electrically and mechanically.

For example, enacting a closed-door environment economizes without bringing in outside air. Temperature can be controlled and maintained at the same temperature year-round in  data halls. It doesn’t matter whether it is zero degrees outside or 120 degrees F. Our data hall is maintained at 75 degrees F and 45 percent relative humidity. This is one small example of how to achieve efficiency and reliability.

Another important factor in cooling data centers is flexibility. Data centers must be able to efficiently scale vertically and horizontally, adapting to varying densities and workloads, to meet the needs of its clients. I hear the same question again and again, “Our current IT load is at five to eight kilowatts per rack, but our IT group wants to drive higher density, doubling that. What do I do?” Our approach is to offer flexible ramp terms in a future-proof environment where they can grow vertically and become dense without investing in more real estate. Thus, clients have the flexibility to scale-up versus out. Expanding vertically in the same footprint is far more efficient and economical than taking down more data center space. Traditional cooling methods are not able to accommodate increasing density inside the same footprint.

We also hear from clients that they are usually required to design their IT stamp around the capabilities of their data center provider. It's important to tune the data center with the workload both now and in the future with an efficient and reliable platform. 

Looking into the Future

The digital economy is driving compute densities upward; and, meanwhile, the need to become more efficient by every measure is increasing. Some data centers are achieving 40-50 kW per rack and providing a 40-degree delta T across that server. A higher delta T is more efficient. Traditional data centers require systems to be added and the workload is spread out to manage that kind of heat. Thus, more water, more energy and more space are consumed.

Developing innovative ways to save water without increasing energy usage is an important next step in our industry. We must continue to innovate and create ways to control water consumption. My guess is that just as PUE numbers have steadily declined over the years and remain a popular topic at industry conferences, WUE or water usage effectiveness is poised to follow suit.

Shifting the conversation from power to water usage is critical. As an industry, we must care about water usage, not just energy reduction. We must create ways to control water consumption and go beyond reaping cost and resource efficiencies for today but transform the industry for the future.

Editor's Note: Read Part 1 of this two-part series.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating.


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