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What data center technologies should I be aware of?
Alternative Energy: Solar, wind and hydro show great potential for generating electricity in an eco-friendly manner. Nuclear and hydro show great potential for grid based, green power. However, the biggest challenge when it comes to using alternative energy for your data center applications is the need for a constant supply at high service levels. If you use alternative energy but still need to buy from the local power company when hit with peak loads, many of the economic benefits youre reaping from the alternative energy source will disappear quickly. As new storage mechanisms are developed that capture and store the excess capacity so it can be accessed when needed, then alternative energy sources will play a much greater role in the data center than they do today. Water and air based storage systems show great potential as eco-friendly energy storage options.
Ambient Return: This is a system whereby air returns to the air conditioner unit naturally and unguided. This method is inefficient in some applications because it is prone to mixing hot and cold air, and to stagnation caused by static pressure, among other problems.
Chiller based cooling: A type of cooling where chilled water is used to dissipate heat in the CRAC unit (rather than glycol or refrigerant). The heat exchanger in a chiller based system can be air or water cooled. Chiller based system provide CRAC units with greater cooling capacity than DX based systems. Besides removing the DX limitation of a 24° F. spread between output and input, the chiller system can adjust dynamically based on load.
Chimney effect: Just as your home chimney leverages air pressure differences to drive exhaust, the same principle can be used in the data center. This has lead to a common design with cool air being fed below a raised floor and pulled into the data center as hot air escapes above through the chimney. This design creates a very efficient circulation of cool air while minimizing air mixing.
Cloud computing: This is a style of computing that is dynamically scalable through virtualized resources provided as a service over the Internet. In this model the customer need not be concerned with the technical details of the remote resources. (That’s why it is often depicted as a cloud in system diagrams.) There are many different types of cloud computing options with variations in security, backup, control, compliance and quality of service that must be thoroughly vetted to assure their use does not put the organization at risk.
Cogeneration: This is the use of an engine (typically diesel or natural gas based) to generate electricity and useful heat simultaneously. The heat emitted by the engine in a data center application can be used by an “absorption chiller” (a type of chiller that converts heat energy into cooling) providing cooling benefits in addition to electric power. In addition, excess electricity generated by the system can be sold back to the power grid to defray costs. In practice, the effective ROI of cogeneration is heavily dependent on the spread between the cost of electricity and fuel. The cogeneration alternative will also contribute to substantial increase in CO2 emissions for the facility. This runs counter to the trend toward eco-friendly solutions and will create a liability in Cap and Trade carbon trading.