September 20, 2011, 11:10 AM — Earlier this month, Cisco made news with its new data center in Research Triangle Park, N.C. The interesting bit about that facility is Cisco designed it for double duty – it will support application development and also disaster recovery (DR) for its production data centers in Texas.
Cisco also says the new center is highly efficient, with a Power Usage Efficiency measure at 1.4, compared to 1.34 at the company's Allen, Texas, facility and 1.9 in Richardson, Texas, the two data centers the new North Carolina facility will initially back up.
I decided to look into the Allen, Texas data center since it is so darn efficient, and discovered this great video tour on youtube that was just posted last week. Check it out below.
The Allen, Texas facility, which opened this spring, leverages the vendor’s entire data center technology portfolio: computing, switching, and data storage access. It supports the company’s internal private cloud and also delivers IT as a service to customers. It’s got quite a few interesting green features. Leveraging a unified network fabric that unites storage and data traffic has reduced the number of switches, adapters and cabling required, which Cisco says has also reduced power usage. The company says it has saved more than $1 million on cabling in this facility. Fewer cables have also increased air circulation so the equipment runs cooler and more efficiently.
Interestingly, there is no raised floor. Also, there’s no “hard” ceiling, which the company says also improves airflow. The server racks have chimneys that take out the hot, 120 degrees Farhenheit air which naturally rises. Fresh, cooler air falls, and fans pull the air into the racks.
An energy-efficient air-side economizer design that leverages fresh air (when the outside temperature is low enough) cools the facility, cutting the need for mechanical chilling. Cisco estimates it will be able to use filtered, outside un-chilled air 65 percent of the time, saving the company an expected $600,000 per year in cooling costs. The air is pulled into an enclosed outdoor space, as is the hot, used air from inside the facility, and all that air hits contaminant detectors and temperature monitors. Louvers that have paper filters cleanse the air, and if necessary, chillers are used to pull heat out. The air is also conditioned by dehumidifiers, and from there the air is moved into the air handler room. At capacity, the systems involved can push out 96,000 cubic meters of air per hour.