The Art of the Green Data Center – Wind, Water, and Energy

Julius Neudorfer wrote an article on Feng Shui and the Art of the Data Center.

Feng Shui and the Art of the Data Center

Data Center | Blog Post | Julius Neudorfer, Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tags: Cooling Systems, Green Technology

I am in the midst of designing a new data center for a client and have been trying to balance the requirements of costs, space limitations, maximum number of cabinets and the flexibility to meet the rising and ever-changing power density of the IT equipment loads. Of course, high energy efficiency is a given. In addition, the client is especially concerned about esthetics and how it will look when a visitor enters the room.

My wife was reading a book on Feng Shui and suggested that I begin to incorporate it into my thinking. Not having enough time to become a Feng Shui master by the project’s deadline, I did some quick reading and found this definition:

Feng Shui is an ancient art of placement to bring balance and harmony to a physical space. The loose translation of Feng Shui is 'wind and water.' Feng represents the wind that carries the chi (energy) throughout a space. Shui is the water that meanders underneath the earth transporting chi.

Julius makes the connection to data centers here.

And while I don’t think that they had a data center in mind when Feng Shui was first introduced hundreds of years ago, I found a strong parallel to the data center’s infrastructure in the definition. The three elements that are mentioned, wind (airflow), water (chilled water) and energy (power), all apply to the operation of a data center and of course, we also want to bring “balance and harmony to a physical space”.

This brings up an interesting view of the use of Wind vs Water – Air cooling vs. Water Cooling, a debate that reminds me of people arguing political views.

What most miss is in the spirit of Feng Shui your goal is to be in balance and harmony with the physical space.  Some sites are better for wind, some for water while watching your energy use.

If I hear someone debate air vs. water for specific site, the conversation’s are usually resolved quickly with a mutual understanding.

Why is this debate so heated?  Many times it is fueled by equipment vendors who have proxies (people) for their technology.