AFCO to Take Bloomberg’s Custom Data Center Rack to Market

Will showcase Open Compute rack modified for market data giant next month

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

February 24, 2016

4 Min Read
AFCO to Take Bloomberg’s Custom Data Center Rack to Market
Michael Bloomberg, CEO of Bloomberg LP and former mayor of New York, speaks at Facebook’s New York headquarters in 2011 (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Like many of its peers in the world of financial-services giants, Bloomberg hasn’t been shy to experiment with novel approaches to data center infrastructure in hopes of finding ways to cut cost and improve performance of its applications.

One of the fruits of this labor is a custom data center rack design – a modified version of the Open Rack, a set of designs and specs available through the Open Compute Project, the Facebook-led open source data center and hardware design community.

Now, AFCO Systems, a manufacturer that developed the rack together with Bloomberg, is taking it to the broader market. The company announced that it will showcase the product, called Bloomberg Open Adaptive Rack, at the big annual Open Compute conference in Silicon Valley next month.

AFCO-Bloomberg-BOAR-OCP-rack.jpgOne of the key distinctive Bloomberg-specific features is a chimney flex duct ring at the top to carry hot server exhaust air into an overhead plenum to prevent it from mixing with cold supply air on the data center floor. These chimneys play a big role in the containment scheme at Bloomberg’s newest data center in the New York suburbs.

AFCO’s Bloomberg rack for the general market will come with or without the duct ring.

Open Compute racks in general take a Facebook design approach that’s radically different from the norm. There’s emphasis on resource sharing by servers in the rack. Instead of having a separate power supply on each individual server, for example, the Open Rack has “power shelves,” which act as shared power supplies for groups of servers in the rack. More detailed specs below.

Major financial services players Goldman Sachs and Fidelity Investments were involved in the Open Compute Project together with Facebook early on. Both companies have been using OCP hardware in their data centers, and Fidelity also has its own customized version of the Open Rack, called the Open Bridge Rack.

Read more: Wall Street Rethinking Data Center Hardware

Bloomberg has three primary data centers in the US and hundreds of nodes in data centers around the world, as well as an extensive global network to provide its market information services to clients.

More on Bloomberg’s data center strategy here: Bloomberg Data Centers: Where the “Go”s Go

BOAR rack by AFCO specs:

Power Zones. The BOAR Rack by AFCO Systems is divided into separate power zones, each of which includes an equipment bay for compute, storage, or other components and a power shelf, which provides power to the compute components in the equipment bay. In addition, each power zone equipment bay can be can be configured to accommodate different amounts and heights of equipment chassis.

OpenU Slots. Each height slot in an Open Rack is measured in OpenU. Unlike a traditional rack unit (RU) which is 44.5 mm high, an OpenU is larger at 48mm high, which includes the space between each chassis unit. The compute chassis are supported on L-shaped brackets that directly snap into vertical structural rack posts. These brackets, installable without tools, can be mounted at 0.5xOpenU (24mm) increments; this allows the support of any chassis height, regardless of the combinations of different heights within the same power zone. Available chassis height in one power zone adds up to 10xOpenU-maximum.

Bus Bars. Bus bars are installed in pairs at the rear of each power zone in the rack. Each pair is connected to output voltage positive and negative terminations provided by the power shelf installed in the same power zone

Cabling. The racks contain cabling runs along the front-left and front-right rack posts which are stamped sheet metal C channels, each providing 180mm x 25mm of room available for cables. Flanges have been built in to the channels, routed vertically, to retain cables using simple Velcro straps or cable ties. Horizontal Cable Troughs (4"x4") are welded into the rack frame at the top-front and top-rear to support intra-rack cabling.

Construction and Access. The rack frame itself is constructed of welded tubular steel. A black powder coat finish is applied to comply with OPC standards. The rack top panel offers a brush filled cable access openings in all four corners and is fitted with a Chimney Flex Duct Ring. The rack has a removable perforated front door and a removable sealed/clear plexi door. Both doors are hinged right.

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