Inside IBMs Efficient Data Center

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2010-02-04 Print this article Print


IBM is hosting a cloud computing program at the data center in conjunction with North Carolina Central University and NC State University. The program enables students at Hillside New Tech High School, in Durham, N.C., to gain access to school materials and applications over the Internet, Dzaluk said.

The data center also hosts IBM's own worldwide Website and the IT operations of such outsourcing clients as the U.S. Golf Association. USGA officials said the move to the new facility helped reduce the organization's power consumption by 38 percent and floor space requirements by 34 percent.

IBM's Smarter Planet initiative is designed to incorporate greater intelligence into infrastructures-from buildings, transportation systems and utilities to businesses and even cities-to make them run more efficiently. Along those lines, IBM has put in more than 8,000 branch circuit monitoring points that keep an eye on the systems, more than 2,000 sensors that gather temperature, pressure, humidity and air flow data from air conditioners, and more than 30,000 utility and environmental sensors that interconnect with IBM software tools. Data from these sensors can be analyzed to help with future planning for the building and for energy conservation.

Thanks to a host of energy-efficiency features, the IBM data center will consume half the energy that like-sized traditional data centers do, Dzaluk said. Data from sensors throughout the building enables systems to dynamically adjust cooling, which will save 15 percent in energy costs. In addition, outside air will be used for half the year to help keep the data center cool, a reflective roof is used to reduce heat from the sun and rainwater is collected for reuse.

IBM was able to also reuse 95 percent of the building's original shell and recycle 92 percent-or 4,017 tons-of construction waste.

The data center is a showcase for IBM's EMDC (Enterprise Modular Data Center) initiative. Introduced in June 2008, EMDC enables companies to scale their IT infrastructure as business needs demand in small, standardized modules. By growing incrementally-rather than trying to build everything at once-businesses can save 40 percent on capital expenses and 50 percent on operational expenses until further capacity is required, Sams said in an interview.

He likened it to PCs, which regularly ship with extra memory slots installed. Users don't pay for the extra memory until it's needed, he said.

The EMDC approach also helps businesses with planning, Sams said. Rather than trying to guess what the company will need 20 years down the road-or what technology will be like in that time-the company can expand its data center as needed.

"Planning this five years out is challenging, much less 20 years," Sams said. "Someone building a data center five years ago didn't even know about cloud computing."

The data center is also a model of how IBM will roll out its own data centers in the future.


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