December 1, 2009 | John Berendzen | Sustainability

Data center design – no “One Size Fits All” solutions

I recently spoke at a data center conference on the topic of “green design” – a concept that carries with it a lot of passionate debate. I found myself wedged between those calling for the complete elimination all toxicity within the data center world (especially equipment recycling) at any cost, and those who said the entire concept of green was “complete rubbish”.

My argument about green design was that you can’t approach data center design with a “one size fits all” mentality. This idea was borne out by the speakers.

Supplemental Cooling
Supplemental Cooling

There were speakers who represented the container suppliers. They made a powerful case for the use of containers to speed up data center implementation and the benefits of modular design. One speaker discussed chillerless data center design, citing as an example Microsoft’s recently completed data center in Dublin. There was a spirited debate on hardware refresh – whether it’s greener to refresh every 3 years and gain the efficiency that comes with the latest technology or hold on to your old hardware for up to seven years (as advised by Greenpeace).

At the end of the day, the idea that there is no “one size fits all” solution to data center design was obvious. Too many factors drive design in their own way – first cost vs. lifecycle costs – security concerns – acceptable risk – business objectives – these issues and others must be prioritized before real results driven design can take place.
So where does this leave us? As data center designers there are certain key concepts that underly all our data center work. These ideas are

1. First and foremost, conservation and smart, simple design is always your best strategy.

2. Next, innovation comes in numerous forms – spend adequate time defining your goals, open that discussion up to a wide range of people and choose the innovations that fit your project.
3. Finally, don’t forget the power of people – if you only consider racks,  wires and piping you’ve lost a key component of green design – energy comes in multiple forms, including people.

Ask more of your data center. Consider all the possibilities. Fox is committed to green design – not one size fits all thinking.

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