Sun's Energy Efficient Data Center, The Role of Modularity in Datacenter Design

Sun has a pdf on  Energy Efficient Datacenters - The Role of Modularity in Datacenter Design and a wiki post.

Energy Efficient Datacenters: The Role of Modularity in Datacenter Design

by Dean Nelson, Michael Ryan, Serena DeVito, Ramesh KV, Petr Vlasaty, Brett Rucker, and Brian Day
June, 2008

Virtually every Information Technology (IT) organization and the clients that they serve have dramatically different requirements that impact their datacenter designs. Sun is no exception to this rule. As an engineering company, Sun has cross-functional organizations that manage the company's corporate infrastructure portfolio including engineering, services, sales, operations, and IT.

On the surface, the datacenters supporting these different organizations look as different as night and day - one looks like a computer hardware laboratory and another looks like a lights-out server farm. One has employees entering and leaving constantly, and another is accessed remotely and could be anywhere. One may be housed in a building, and another may be housed within an enhanced shipping container. Beneath the surface, however, our datacenters have similar underlying infrastructure including physical design, power, cooling, and connectivity.

At first I thought the document was going to be able Sun's Containers, but as I continued through the document more details were discussed in modular power, cooling, and cabling. The following is from the summary.

The last thing that a datacenter design should do is get in the way of a company’s ability to conduct business. Traditional datacenter designs can do just that. Cooling via raised floors and perimeter CRAC units limit the ability to increase density and achieve energy efficiency. Power distribution units and under-floor whips limit flexibility and require downtime for reconfiguration. Home-run, under-floor cabling makes growth difficult, impacts cooling and raises costs.

Datacenter designs that facilitate — rather than limit — growth, density, flexibility and rapid change can be a company’s competitive weapon. At Sun, our modular, pod-based datacenters can turn on a dime whenever business directions change, from accommodating new equipment in our pods to expanding our rack footprint by deploying additional Sun Modular Datacenters. We can accommodate growth and increases in density because three key datacenter functions — power, cooling, and cabling — are prepared from day one to support an overall doubling in each area.

The document is 58 pages with the following content.

  • The Role of Modularity in Datacenter Design
    • Choosing Modularity
    • Defining Modular, Energy-Efficient Building Blocks
    • Buildings Versus Containers
    • Cost Savings
    • About This Article
  • The Range of Datacenter Requirements
    • Power and Cooling Requirements
      • Using Racks, Not Square Feet, as the Key Metric
      • Temporal Power and Cooling Requirements
      • Equipment-Dictated Power and Cooling Requirements
    • Connectivity Requirements
    • Equipment Access Requirements
    • Choosing Between Buildings and Containers
    • Living Within a Space, Power, and Cooling Envelope
      • Space
      • Power
      • Cooling
    • Calculating Sun's Santa Clara Datacenters
      • Efficiency in Sun's Santa Clara Software Datacenter
  • Sun's Pod-Based Design
    • Modular Components
    • Pod Examples
      • Hot-Aisle Containment and In-Row Cooling
      • Overhead Cooling for High Spot Loads
      • A Self-Contained Pod - the Sun Modular Datacenter
  • Modular Design Elements
    • Physical Design Issues
      • Sun Modular Datacenter Requirements
      • Structural Requirements
      • Raised Floor or Slab
      • Racks
      • Future Proofing
    • Modular Power Distribution
      • The Problem with PDUs
      • The Benefits of Modular Busway
    • Modular Spot Cooling
      • Self-Contained, Closely Coupled Cooling
      • In-Row Cooling with Hot-Aisle Containment
      • Overhead Spot Cooling
      • The Future of Datacenter Cooling
    • Modular Cabling Design
      • Cabling Best Practices
  • The Modular Pod Design at Work
    • Santa Clara Software Organization Datacenter
    • Santa Clara Services Organization Datacenter
    • Sun Solution Center
    • Guillemont Park Campus, UK
    • Prague, Czech Republic
    • Bangalore, India
    • Louisville, Colorado: Sun Modular Datacenter
  • Summary
    • Looking Toward the Future