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May 4, 2017

Do you really need a high density data center?

It never ceases to amaze me how many vendors tout a “one size fits all” solution. Even in a certain sector or company, the needs are varied. Across hundreds of data centers the needs are even more varied. If we look at typical Watts per cabinet, the international average is 5.5-6.0. This is certainly not what we would deem high density. Many colocation and hosted facilities are designed to these lower numbers as well. If you need more power, you simply rent more space. If you talk to any colo provider, they will be the first to tell you that managing power across all customers is a full time job as none of the cages require the same power requirements.

When you increase power density, you need to increase cooling capacity as well. Cooling capacity comes at a cost and shouldn’t be implemented across the board if it isn’t needed. There are a plethora of cooling options for data centers these days. For those lucky enough, “free” air cooling can provide a significant savings. I say “free” because the systems certainly isn’t, the filters are not, in fact the only free part about the system is the outside air. This solution won’t work everywhere.

The next option is to use close coupled cooling or as some call it in row cooling. This can be a great solution for high density areas, but the floor space required every other cabinet (typically) can be a prohibiting factor in existing spaces.


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