Up and Atom
During the tour, Levy was quite keen to show me the innards of one of the servers the company uses for customers, who tend to run lightweight Web apps. The servers in question are from Super Micro, running Atom processors from Intel. Yes, that Atom, the processor made famous for powering lightweight computers like netbooks. Levy said the servers are extraordinarily efficient, requiring a mere 37 watts in part because the servers have no fans or any other superfluous components. (Google claims to use bare-bones servers as well to save on energy costs.) Compare that to the 280-plus watts necessary for a more traditional 1U server.
Slow, steady, and simple
Even though companies are reportedly clamoring for data center space, Hurricane Electric isn't working 24/7 to pack every square foot of its new facility with powered-on infrastructure -- a traditional tactic employed by data center operators in the past. Rather, the company is steadily adding and turning on power and cooling in line with demand, a measured approach that saves money.
For example, there are currently just two backup power generators, even though the facility will ultimately need 14 when the facility is fully occupied. "If this was 1999, we would buy all 14 generators today," he said.
Hurricane Electric is in the process of developing tools in-house to monitor power consumption and efficiency in its data center, rather than going with a toolset from an existing vendor. Levy describes having that sort of power-consumption information available for customer is a competitive differentiator (though Hurricane certainly isn't alone here). The idea is to give customers granular, detailed information about how efficiently they're using the power and infrastructure they're paying for -- as well as guidance as to how to make better use of it all, such as replacing older servers with new, more energy-efficient variants.
Notably, the company doesn't employ temperature-mapping technology to pinpoint hot spots in real time. Hot spots aren't a problem, according to Levy, because of the low-density design of the facility.