HP Offers Different Approach to Data Center Cooling

Hewlett-Packard is looking to offer its services by evaluating and recommending changes in an enterprise's data center through its new cooling program.

Hewlett-Packard is looking to bridge the gap between a companys IT and facilities departments, while offering a new way to monitor and control heating and cooling costs in the data center.

The Palo Alto, Calif., OEM announced Nov. 29 that it will begin offering a new service where HP technicians will evaluate and offer recommendations to help cool a companys data center and also offer software and hardware that will help monitor power and heat.

Unlike other solutions that have been offered to cool increasingly dense data centers, HP will examine the data center, install sensors to determine the hottest spots and the places where energy is escaping, and then install a monitoring system to keep track of temperature and power.

HP said that instead of a solution that focuses on IT, it is offering a way for facility managers to control and reconfigure data center cooling and power flow within the existing infrastructure.

"This has been the talk of both our big and small customers, that they are having trouble with their cooling capacity and that they have been running out of headroom," said Steven Cumings, HPs director of marketing for storage networks and infrastructure.

"There really is a conflict between IT, which wants as much computing power as possible, and the facilities guys, who have to try and get the most power into the data center," Cumings said.

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What HP is offering under its "Dynamic Smart Cooling" program is a way to address these two issues, according to Cumings.

In addition to the evaluation of the data center, HP technicians will install sensors in server racks to keep track of "hot spots" and "cool spots."

This information will then be configured through HP software and can be monitored by either IT or facilities managers.

With the evaluation, administrators can locate various cracks within the infrastructure, monitor power input and output and redirect airflow and air conditioning to the appropriate spot within the data center throughout the day.

"There is no massive reconfiguration with this," Cumings said. "This offering as a limited impact and it works with whats already in place."

HP, which has already deployed the sensors and software in its own HP Labs facility, claims this service will save between 25 and 40 percent in cooling costs.

In addition to HP Labs, the software and hardware combination is being beta tested at some other data center facilities. The company will officially start offering the service in the third quarter of 2007.

Jonathan Eunice, an analyst with Illuminata, in Nashua, N.H., gave HP credit for approaching data center cooling with this type of service but added that it will not address the needs of mega data centers.

What might be an appropriate solution for a rack of servers that uses eight to 12 kilowatts of electricity would not work for mainframes in the financial sector that can use between 20,000 and 25,000 kilowatts, Eunice said.

"Its a practical step and a way to manage cracks and it addresses those issues appropriately," Eunice said.

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Eunice added that this set of services will help bridge the gap between facilities and IT. "With increasingly dense data centers, getting these guys together is something new."

Eunice said the service will help facilities managers know where the problems spots are within the data center and give them the monitoring and adjust capabilities that had been lacking.

Although these services will work with existing HP products, such as the HP Thermal Logic feature that comes with its BladeSystem c-Class architecture, Cumings said HP would offer it to any company with any range of equipment in the data center.

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