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Inertech, Skanska Partner on Energy-Efficient Cooling Platform

A new coil technology helps the companies extend free cooling zone for data centers and reduces water and power consumption. Learn more about the cooling platform.

Skanska and Inertech are not the only companies tackling the high PUE problem. Both Google and HP have been successful in lowering the PUE in their data centers to below average. Google reported a PUE of just 1.14 at the end of 2011, an average of all its data centers, meaning overhead energy usage was only 14% of computing electricity consumption. HP operates a data center in Wynyard, England, that is located on the shore of the North Sea. Drawing in cool sea air gives the Wynyard data center a PUE of just 1.19.

Testing by the University of Maryland's Department of Mechanical Engineering found the cooling system achieved a 1.012 PUE reading, which is below the average of 1.4 to 1.6 for most data centers.

The problem with PUE comparisons is that tests capture only a moment in time and would be different if averaged out over weeks or a year. PUE is influenced by many factors, such as power and cooling equipment types and percentages of load utilization.

Telus, one of Canada's largest service providers, is the first commercial organization to deploy eCombs with eOPTI-TRAX. "We continue to see incredible growth in the need for compute storage and WAN/LAN connectivity in all our data centers," said Lloyd Switzer, SVP of network transformation at Telus. "It didn't matter how well we designed our data centers. We would quickly outgrow the capacity of the data centers, either on power, on cooling or footprint. We could never predict which."

Telus decided to take a step back and look at what made more sense: improving existing data centers and their TCO or building green field facilities. It ultimately turned to Skanska to devise a multi-year framework that would incorporate eComb and eOPTI-TRAX. The first phase has been constructed at a new prototype Telus facility in Rimouski, Quebec.

EComb enables Telus to add capacity as needed within the facility. The IT and mechanical systems are self-contained within the modules, so there's no need for the traditional facility-wide mechanical systems: Telus can add eCombs as required.

Switzer said the Skanska approach meets the TCO and agility requirements Telus was looking for, and is sustainable and environmentally friendly as well. Traditional data center design, he said, is not that efficient, and while power consumption does drive up cost, it's cooling that really increases mechanical PUE.

Telus's new data center in Quebec incorporating the eComb and eOPTI-TRAX is close to being switched on, with a second facility in British Columbia expected go online next year.

Switzer said he anticipates that Telus will be able to reduce its overall TCO by 40% by lowering up-front investment through the modular deployment approach as well as improving energy efficiency. Using tools provided by Skanska, Telus will be able to track how efficiently its new data center is operating, down to the aisle or rack level, to understand the ROI and how the technology can be applied to its 12 existing data centers across Canada.

Skanska's eComb or eHive can be deployed in modular increments of 250kW each and each rack is able to support as much as 60kW. Customers select their own IT equipment. It takes 16 weeks to add a module.

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