Outside of the Box: Creative and Unusually Designed Data Centers
When you think of what a data center looks like, you probably imagine a boxy-building that resembles a warehouse and is located in the business or industrial part of town. Many data center-owning companies at the forefront of technology are busy breaking those preconceptions of what a data center should be and are exploring a wide-range of new, creative options. These new options take into account environmental conditions to improve performance, efficiency, and security. The new models make technological advancements that could influence your company’s next data center build.
Going For a Swim
Microsoft has started experimenting with building enclosed data centers underwater in coastal regions to work around many of the limitations of a traditional data center. While performing maintenance on a data center enclosed in a submersible steel cylinder is about as difficult and impractical as it sounds, the underwater approach presents incredible efficiency opportunities. The self-contained system can utilize ocean currents as a power source while also using the water’s relatively cooler ambient temperature to keep hardware temperatures down. This is an environmentally-friendly approach to data hosting. These differently designed data centers can be deployed in 90 days, allow faster access for nearby coastal communities, and do not require expensive land to house them.
Floating data centers work by bringing the hardware to the water for cooling instead of bringing the water to the facilities. Offshore data centers can be built on stationary oil rigs or mobile boats, like barges, and use the ocean as a power source and cooling solution similar to underwater data centers, while being substantially easier to maintain.
However, offshore data centers located far away from the people that use it will suffer latency issues, making it an option for long-term data storage over hosting snappy web apps. While the barge method is still in the “proof of concept” stages, it will also lend the data center mobility as a feature and won’t require occupying expensive real estate.
Raising the Roof
Instead of opting to use the environment for efficient cooling, eBay designed an efficient data center in Phoenix, Arizona that works with the region’s scorching temperatures. The data center sports high-density servers built into containers on the building’s roof and uses hot water to cool the hardware. Instead of pushing cooler temps, the data center is designed to maintain ultra-efficiency at 115 degrees Fahrenheit, which is still well within the hardware’s safe operational temperature range. This solution is exceptionally efficient, using more than 98 percent of available power for computing compared to the company’s 80 percent average.
These examples are just some of the industry’s creative, adaptive approaches to building efficient data centers that overcome the traditional model’s shortcomings. Secure, ambient-cooled underground data centers and carbon-emission reducing landscaping data centers also improve upon the server hosting status quo. While these methods may seem outlandish at first, they offer advantages that are too beneficial to ignore.
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