The 10 Most Popular Data Center Articles of 2012

It was an extraordinary year for the data center sector, as reflected in the stories that our readers found the most compelling in 2012. That included Data Center Knowledge's coverage of major events (the Olympics), major disasters (Sandy), major outages, and major trends in designs. Even physics genius Dr. Stephen Hawking made a cameo. And then there was Google, which featured in four of the 10 most popular stories on DCK in 2012. Here's a list of the top 10 stories of the year, ranked by page views.

An illustration of a proposed "community-based" data center in Minnetonka, Minnesota (Image: Keith Waters & Associates).

Data Center That Mimics a Mansion: We’ve seen a lot of unusual data center designs over the years. But on Jan. 20 we profiled a new one: a luxury homebuilder in Minnesota wants to build a data center that appears to be a mansion, allowing the commercial building to fit into a residential neighborhood. The $30 million facility is the brainchild of  FiberPop, a local startup that wants to build a chain of “community-based data centers.” The building features a stone facade, sloped roof with dormers and plans for trees and landscaping - as well as an underground data center “bunker” and offices for FiberPop’s staff.

Massive Flooding Damages Several NYC Data Centers (Oct. 30):  Readers flocked to DCK for updates after flooding from Hurricane Sandy hobbled a handful of data center buildings in Lower Manhattan, taking out diesel fuel pumps used to refuel generators. There were also reports of outages for some tenants at a major data hub at 111 8th Avenue, and many other New York area facilities were running on generator power amid widespread utility outages. Data Center Knowledge tracked the regional impact of Sandy on a daily basis, and summarized our coverage here: In Sandy's Aftermath, Epic Challenges for Data Centers.

How Go Daddy Keeps 52 Million Domains Humming (April 17) You may know Go Daddy primarily for its edgy and humorous Super Bowl ads. But when it comes to the Internet infrastructure supporting the 52 million domain names it manages, Go Daddy is all business. “We handle 10 billion DNS queries a day,” said Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman. “A good chunk of the Internet resolves because of us.” In April we took DCK readers inside Go Daddy's global network of data centers and points of presence (PoPs). Our coverage got much wider attention in September, when a DNS outage at Go Daddy left millions of customer sites unreachable.

How Google Cools Its Armada of Servers (Oct 17): Google has shared some of its best practices over the years, but other parts of its data center operations have remained under wraps. One of the best-kept secrets has been the details of its cooling system, which allows Google to pack tens of thousands of servers into racks. Google Senior Director of Data Centers Joe Kava discussed the design of its cooling system with Data Center Knowledge in connection with the company’s publication of a photo gallery and a StreetView app that provide Google’s millions of users with a look inside its data centers. If you’re one of those data center managers who worries about having water in close proximity to the IT equipment, Google's approach might make you nervous.

Hawking is First User of 'Big Brain' Supercomputer (June 14): Calling your product the “Big Brain Computer” is a heady claim. It helps if you have Dr. Stephen Hawking say that the product can help unlock the secrets of the universe. That’s the scenario for UV2 “Big Brain” computer from SGI, which was unveiled in mid-June for the International Supercomputing Conference. The company is billing the UV2 as the world’s largest shared memory system, with the ability to scale up to 4,096 cores and 64 terabytes of memory. At a peak I/O rate of four terabytes per second, SGI says the UV 2 could ingest the entire 10 terabyte contents of the U.S. Library of Congress in less than three seconds.That’s the kind of horsepower that got the attention of Hawking, the renowned theoretical physicist and author of A Brief History of Time.

Cold aisle or hot aisle? Interxion team can catch some Zzzs in the sleeping pods added to their London data center.

Interxion Readies Staff Sleeping Pods for Olympics:  Should data center staff be prepared to hunker down in data centers for days to keep customer servers online? Data center operators in London confronted this issue prior to the 2012 Summer Olympics, as huge crowds were expected to test the  transit system. The data center team at Interxion showed off its solution that will ensure that its London tech staff can be on site to keep things running smoothly: “sleeping pods” at its London data center campus, allowing staff to sleep amongst the racks to ensure that the facility will be fully staffed throughout the Games. While the Olympics didn't test this need, many data center staffers slept in their facilities in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

A server motherboard being immersed in liquid coolant filling an enclosure from Green Revolution Cooling. Intel just completed a year-long test affirming the effectiveness of the “submerged servers.” (Image: Green Revolution)

Intel Embraces Submerging Servers in Oil (Sept. 4): Will the appetite for ever-more powerful computing clusters push users to new cooling technologies, like submerging servers in liquid coolant? If so, Intel will be ready. The chipmaker is optimizing its technology for servers immersed in oil, an approach that may soon see broader adoption in the high performance computing (HPC) sector. “We continue to explore server designs, and we’re evaluating how (immersion cooling) can change the way data centers are designed and operated,” said Mike Patterson, senior power and thermal architect at Intel. ”It’s obviously quite a change in mindset.” Intel has just concluded a year-long test with immersion cooling equipment from Green Revolution Cooling, and affirmed that the technology is highly efficient and safe for servers. The testing, conducted at an Intel data center in New Mexico, may mark a turning point in market readiness for submerged servers, if recent experience with Intel’s embrace of emerging data center designs is any indication.

Too Hot for Humans, But Google Servers Keep Humming (March 23) Raising the temperature in server racks can make a data center more efficient. But what happens if the room gets too hot for people? If you’re Google, the servers keep humming along while the humans retreat to climate-controlled sections of the building. That’s what’s been happening at Google’s data center in Belgium, which was the company’s first facility to rely entirely upon fresh air for cooling, instead of energy-hungry chillers. That approach has helped the facility become Google’s most efficient data center. But on the warmest days, staff clear out while the machines keep working.

A photo Google released last week showing servers in one of its facilities. (Photo: Google)

A Glimpse Inside Google's Data Centers: In May Google published photos of some of its 900,000 servers as part of a larger presentation that explains how an email makes its way across the Internet. The images show rows of racks, fully packed with servers and bathed in the green light of the LEDs on each server tray. It was just a taste of disclosure to come, as five months later Google would provide a much more detailed look inside its data centers.

Google: Our Data Centers Are Good Neighbors (Jan 19): Google said today that all its company-built data centers in the United States have earned independent certifications for environmental impact and workplace safety. The company said the certifications were a sign of its commitment to maintaining the highest standards for its data center operations. While acronym-laden certifications might not seem like exciting stuff, Google says that meeting these standards are a key component of corporate responsibility and being a good citizen in the communities where its data centers are located.

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