How Enseva Makes Colocation Better! – Part I

By Chris SeveyBlog

I travel around the Midwest on a rather regular basis to help customers evaluate their current datacenter infrastructure and determine how Enseva might help address not only immediate issues that may be apparent, but also help identify any new issues that might be lingering just around the corner. More often than not, one of the major concerns I encounter relates to organizations running into power- and cooling-related problems. Just last week I visited several locations struggling with growth due to the size of electrical service delivered to the building. It’s not uncommon for these locations to also have some type of cooling issues, whether it is not enough capacity, inefficient floor layout, or an inability to deploy adequate cooling due to the electrical constraints mentioned earlier.

When designing the “Next-Generation Datacenter,” it was imperative to me that the facility should support not only the electrical and cooling demands of today’s servers, storage and network infrastructure, but — for the benefit of myself and my customers — have the ability to scale the facility to support the ever-increasing demands of IT infrastructure 10 years from now as well without being obsolete. I didn’t want occupants of my facility to be forced into scaling real estate, electrical and cooling linearly. These resources should be scaled independently, similar to the concept of the “Cloud”: These are the resources I need, here is how I need them configured and, by the way, I want them delivered now. Organizations should be able to decommission old 2 rack unit servers and replace them with four times the number of blade servers without questioning if the facility can support that type of change. Let’s just get it done!

To achieve this dream, we set off on a journey that required several years of defining new datacenter design methodologies using products and ideas that hadn’t even hit the market yet. A revolutionary electrical switchgear system was designed from scratch that allows the facility to make utility service transitions without impacting availability of services not connected to Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) systems. New approaches needed to be introduced to battery backup and cooling systems that allow for just-in-time capacity deployments in a hot plug’n play fashion. We redefined the cooling process to eliminate the inherent inefficiencies plagued by the traditional perimeter cooling techniques, while simultaneously supporting in excess of 30kw per cabinet in an environmentally and cost-efficient manner.

These technologies allow today’s organizations to rapidly scale infrastructure and capabilities within the datacenter, free of limitations. Infrastructure growth can be achieved through consolidation and higher rack densities, yielding lower operational costs achieved through that reduced datacenter footprint. All while server and application availability is improved.
It all boils down to this: If you have 75 rack units of equipment with an electrical draw totaling 22kw, you’ll find it difficult to place these 75 rack units in two standard 42 rack unit cabinets despite 75 < 84. This is because achieving 5kw+ in a cabinet requires unique cooling methodologies that simply are not available outside of a select few facilities. Referencing my local market (Iowa) and most of the Midwest, the majority of facilities will be constructed to support somewhere between 2.5kw and 5.0kw. In a lot of facilities, exceeding 5.0kw would require augmented fan systems and other niche products that sometimes permit a facility to achieve greater than 5.0kw, but often at the expense of overall datacenter efficiencies, typically referred to as Power Usage Efficiency (PUE).

These facilities will allow you to consume 42 rack units of real estate with 5.0kw of power and cooling capacity (assuming a 5.0kw facility). To meet the needs of your 22kw environment, you’ll need quantity 5 cabinets. After all, 5 cabinets * 5kw = 25kw > 22kw demand. But you only need two cabinets worth of real estate! Yes, that’s right. You’ll be investing in real estate that you don’t technically need in order to gain access to the power and cooling you require. I’ve sometimes heard this being referenced as “cabinet equivalencies.”

What if there was an option on the market that allowed organizations to take that 5 cabinet “equivalencies” and deliver the necessary power and cooling into just two cabinets? Would organizations benefit from a decoupled platform that allowed them to scale power and cooling independently of real estate? Would these benefits include better organization, less infrastructure in the form of patch panels, switches, power strips, etc., and a reduced operating cost through a reduction in real estate?

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we’ll talk more about how datacenter design impacts electrical growth, security (physical and operational) and how high efficiency can impact your datacenter environment.