Data Centers as Cities, and Servers as Buildings – IT ecosystem

I just had an hour discussion with data center construction company and another hour discussion with Intel on the 5500 chip and data centers. Thanks to these two conversations and some good input from Intel’s Allyson Klein, Director of Server Technology Leadership Marketing, I came up with the following metaphor.

You could think of data centers as cities and buildings as servers.  Allyson was quick to point how Portland which is in Intel’s backyard of Beaverton where she is based, has taken a sustainable approach to the city.

Welcome to the new Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

In January 2009, Portland City Council merged the Bureau of Planning with the Office of Sustainable Development to create the new Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. The Bureau of Planning has had an exceptional record of guiding Portland's growth and development toward the thriving, livable city that it is today. The Office of Sustainable Development pioneered policies and programs that integrate environmental, economic, and social benefits.

This new bureau will ensure that sustainability principles are integrated into the core of Portland's planning, urban design and government operations, strengthening Portland’s position as the global epicenter of sustainable practices and commerce.

If you have a Sustainable City plan, then green buildings fit as well.

Green Jobs High performance green buildings Healthy environment

City of Portland Proposed High Performance Green Building Policy

High performance green building presents one of the best solutions to improve environmental performance while strengthening the local economy and keeping buildings affordable in the long term. Recognizing the many benefits of green building, in 2007, Portland City Council directed the Office of Sustainable Development to develop policy options to improve the environmental performance of commercial and residential buildings community-wide. The resulting proposed High Performance Green Building Policy also addresses City Council's goal to identify steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

The proposed High Performance Green Building Policy seeks to accomplish the following goals for buildings and the sites they occupy in the City of Portland:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
  • Maximize energy efficiency and cost savings.
  • Keep housing and commercial buildings affordable over time.
  • Decrease consumption of potable water, especially during summer months.
  • Increase on-site stormwater management.
  • Reduce waste during construction and operation.
  • Improve indoor environmental quality, occupant health and productivity.
  • Increase the number of local living-wage jobs.

Take these ideas and apply the metaphor to a green data center plan with the right kind of servers (performance per watt and power management).

After talking to Allyson more it became clear how Intel could fund its data center innovation efforts like Data Center Efficiency Challenge, as Intel has encountered situations where customers want to buy and deploy Intel’s latest products, but power and cooling capacities were the limiting factor. In 40% of the scenarios when customers postponed purchasing, data center power and cooling capacity was a limiting factor. Helping customers improve the energy efficiency of their data centers frees up power and cooling for more equipment. 

Intel is amongst a crowded data center services market, but they have a unique position as where others can buy or build buildings (server OEMs), Intel can make servers be more productive and more efficient with processors and support chips.  The Intel 5500 chip has some new power management features, and added instrumentation and controls to allow higher levels of power management.  Intel’s Data Center Manager is Intel’s latest effort.

Flexible data center hierarchy support

  • Supports management simultaneously at all levels of data center hierarchy

Power and thermal data aggregation
and trending

  • Monitor node power and inlet temperature data in real time
  • Aggregate power and inlet temperature data
  • Stores trend data for up to 1 year

Intelligent group power capping

  • Supports multiple policies depending on user power threshold target or goal to minimize power consumption
  • Maintains group power capping while dynamically adapting to changing server loads
  • Accepts SLA priority as policy directive
  • Automatically manage rack and group power consumption and safeguard from sudden power spikes

If you follow the data center/city and server/building metaphor, then DCM creates neighborhoods to control power use.

I like the city, neighborhood, building metaphor for data centers.  It seems like a good way to think about the problems in greening a data center and the interdependencies.