Hurricane Electric's new energy-efficient data center isn't much to look at. In fact, at first blush, it's tough to distinguish any appreciable differences between the newly opened facility, housed in an old Apple manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif., and the company's first data center a mile and half down the road -- even though the latter was built some 10 years ago.
Yet in designing the newest addition to its data center family, Hurricane Electric, which offers collocation services and hosts the world's largest IPv6-native Internet backbone, drew on lessons learned developing and running its first facility over the years. Those lessons are reflected in its approach to selecting power, cooling, and IT equipment; laying out server racks; setting the temperature of the facility; and staggering equipment installation.
In terms of similarities, both data centers boast row after row of server racks, housed in what look like large, identical, dark-blue lockers. Each has its own number and combination lock. Server racks in both facilities are installed in an energy-efficient hot-aisle/cold-aisle arrangement, which prevents mixing of air. Both facilities are comfortably warm, not meat-locker-cold like a traditional data center.
Free cooling today, liquid cooling tomorrow?
Yet there are certainly differences. Among them, the first data center has a traditional raised floor, designed for cold air to blow upward to cool machines. Phases one and two of the new facility, which offers a total of 208,000 square feet of floor space, have no raised floor; racks rest on the concrete floor, and cool air comes down from above, delivered via McQuay Maverick II Rooftop HVAC systems.
The new cooling system, which Hurricane has also installed in its original data center, uses a significantly more energy-efficient approach to cooling, compared to employing constantly spinning fans that push artificially chilled air up from the floor, These rooftop systems use variable-frequency drives, intended to rotate only as much as needed. More important from an energy-savings perspective, the systems run in full-economizer mode, which means much of the data center's cooling is free, compliments of Fremont's mild climate.