Yesterday, Data Center Frontier concluded their inaugural Data Center Executive Roundtable, a quarterly feature showcasing the insights of thought leaders on the current state and the future of the data center industry. The Global Director of Strategy from UMP (United Metal Products), Harold Simmons, was asked to participate in the Roundtable, and to contribute to the discussion by addressing the innovation landscape in data center cooling, one of the primary areas where facility operators can improve efficiency and manage costs.
Data Center Frontier: Cooling has been a key focus of energy efficiency efforts in the data center. Is there still opportunity for innovation in cooling? If so, what might that mean for how data centers are designed and where they are located?
Simmons: There are definitely still opportunities. Even though ASHRAE has raised the recommended temperature level to the server inlets, many organizations have been slow to adopt the newly recommended design criteria. There is still very much a legacy mindset at a psychological level for many when it comes to data centers.
That being said, each data center owner has unique design criteria, functional requirements, and SLA’s (whether they are internal or external) that they are required to meet. As a result of this it is imperative that manufacturers continue to innovate cooling solutions that meet specific design requirements.
In addition to this, one of the most important areas when it comes to cooling is water usage. Often times when data center owners and operators mention water use, they are focused at a localized level. This is because in most parts of the country, water usage is considered at a municipal level. That being said, when water usage is being examined it is imperative that the total hydro footprint of an operation is taken into account – not just the water used on site in order to provide cooling, but also the water that is used at the power plant to produce electricity. This means that cooling systems that use no localized water, but high amounts of electricity can actually have a higher hydro footprint.