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Brocade's New Data Center: Less Space, Efficient Design

Data network technology vendor Brocade is booting up a new data center that is a showcase for energy-efficient design and a guide for other companies seeking to upgrade their facilities. The new center consolidates three data centers occupying a total 7,000 square feet that were scattered around Brocade's headquarters city of San Jose, Calif., into one 5,000-square-foot facility in one of three buildings on a brand new campus built for the company.

By reducing the layers of networking routers, removing equipment that consumed 133 kilowatts (kw) of electricity, increasing the density of server racks, eliminating the raised floor design typical of data centers and using solar power and other features, the new data center reduces energy consumption by 37 percent, eliminates 4,450 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually and saves the company $200,000 per year. "This is incredible efficiency that we've been able to wring out of this building," said Michael Hirahara, vice president for real estate and facilities for Brocade, as he lead reporters and industry analysts on a tour of the facility on Wednesday.

The new data center has only 110 equipment racks versus 150 in the old center, but Brocade is also able to increase rack density. Right now, Brocade only uses 76 of the new racks and measured by rack units--meaning how many of the slots in the racks are occupied by equipment--it's only using 50 percent of its rack capacity, so there is room to grow, said Victor Garcia, senior facility engineering manager for the company.

The data center uses in-row cooling technology in a hot row-cold row layout so that cool air is piped into the cold rows, and the fans draw it through the server or storage device chassis and exhaust it into the hot row. The cooling capacity can be increased to the range of three to eight kilowatts per rack, which also allows for increased rack density.

The new design also eliminates the need for the raised floor, common to many data centers, under which cabling is usually run, said Garcia. Because the data center is housed in a typical office building, ceiling heights are limited to 13.5 feet, so Brocade was able to gain 12 percent in vertical space by eliminating the raised floor. Cables run between server racks and above them.

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