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Skanska Joins The Data Center Mod Squad

Infrastructure and construction contractor Skanska USA has unveiled what it is calling one of the most efficient, greenest data centers in the world. The Telus Intelligent Internet Data Center will use Skanska's new modular design strategy, which will deliver a power usage efficiency (PUE) of 1.15, company officials say. Traditional data centers have a PUE of 2.0, says Terry Rennaker, VP of Skanska USA CoE.

"To add value to our clients, we had to look at entire supply chain from energy to operations,'' says Rennaker.

One of the products Skanska has developed with one of its partners is a cooling solution that operates at very high efficiency even at partial loads and in virtually any ambient temperature conditions. "Your typical mechanical overhead in a traditional data center used to run pretty close to 80% to 90%,'' he says. "Over the years, we've developed systems that are much more efficient in cooling and, frequently, we can get that down to a 3% to 0% cooling range."

Although typical systems in data centers are built for 500 kilowatts of load, on some days they may have only a 10-kilowatt load, he says. "Mechanical systems work incredibly inefficiently at partial load," and many could have a PUE of 5.0 or 6.0, so they have to push more energy to the racks of servers, he adds.

The CoE will also have a water usage efficiency (WUE) of .001, Skanska says.

Its Data Center Intelligence Platform (DCIP) technology collects vendor-neutral data on a variety of systems--including electrical lighting controls, accounting, facilities management and work orders--then aggregates and analyzes the data and issues reports in a simple format in real time, Rennaker says.

Sun Microsystems, now Oracle's hardware arm, was the first to deliver a portable data center, Project Blackbox, in 2006. HP got into the modular data center business two years ago, and last year expanded its Performance Optimized Data Centers (PODs) with the POD 240a and EcoPOD, which uses 95% less facilities energy. It's all about driving extreme simplicity to the fastest time to value, says HP. With Converged Systems, solutions can be up and running in hours instead of months.

Cisco entered a "crowded" portable data center market last May, joining HP, Dell, IBM, Rackspace and Oracle with the Cisco Containerized Data Center. Combining servers, storage, networking and cooling technology and housed in an enclosure about the size of a typical shipping container, the portable data center will be built in as few as 12 weeks from the time a customer places an order to the time it is built, configured, tested and shipped to the customer.

One of the first clients to take advantage of Skanska's CoE is Canadian telecom company TELUS, which has a data center under construction in Rimouski, Quebec, and will have another one built in British Columbia. The modules for the data center are being built in Green Bay, Wisc. While traditional data centers are configured with open systems for racks and servers, as well as back-end mechanical equipment, "what we're doing with TELUS is modularizing that and working with vendors and suppliers so all of that is prepackaged," from the electrical components to the mechanical systems, says Rennaker. "We're deploying a more traditional look and feel, but taking advantage of the modular approach with hyper-cooling conditions."

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