DCN July 2016 - Page 50

final thought A COOL IDEA Jon Leppard of Future Facilities looks at the pros and cons of raising data centre temperatures, and other ways of responding to the pressure to reduce power and cooling expenditure. I n today’s climate, businesses are demanding more and more from their data. Not only is it created, shared and stored in ever increasing volumes, but it must also be readily accessible at all times, and without delay. The unenviable task of delivering this fluidity lies with facilities managers – and the challenge does not end there. The C-suite also requires that all of this is delivered with operational expenditure kept to a minimum. In order to adhere to these demands and maintain a competitive edge, data centre designers are increasingly experimenting with building data centres in extreme environments. A prime example of this is Facebook’s data centre at Lulea, Sweden. The facility has been built within the Arctic Circle to take advantage of free cooling from the external environment. Rather than cooling the facility manually, freezing cold air from outside, at an average temperature of -20ºC, is used instead. But whilst facilities such as these are undoubtedly eye catching, and generate media interest and publicity, do they actually deliver tangible business benefits, or do they fall into the common industry pitfall of overengineering? Is cold climate best for business? Cooling constitutes a significant aspect of operational expenditure, so in theory there are considerable savings to be made if it is provided in effect ‘for free’ by the natural climate. The problem is that relocating data centres to cold climates is completely at odds with another major trend that is developing in facilities management. Rather than moving to colder climes, many operators are opting to raise the temperatures within data centres instead. Doing so reduces the power required for cooling, and the cost of compute. Therefore,