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Syracuse University, IBM Partner In Green Data Center

Syracuse University (SU) has just completed a new green data center that is expected to use about 50 percent less energy than a typical data center in operation today. The $12.4 million, 12,000-square-foot facility (6,000 square feet of infrastructure space and 6,000 square feet of raised-floor data center space), built in partnership with IBM and the New York state government, uses a tri-generation system to produce all the data center's required power plus chilled water to cool all the servers, as well as the cooling and heating needs for the building next door.

The data center, which will be fully operational in January 2010 and will be used as SU's primary computing facility, has a variety of other green characteristics. It operates completely off the grid and incorporates an energy-saving direct current (DC) power distribution system. By the time it is fully populated in mid-2010, the data center will have about 200 terabytes (TB) of storage, a virtual environment with 160 cores and more than 1TB of RAM, an IBM z10 mainframe and an IBM p575 for modeling data center airflow and operations, according to Chris Sedore, the university's CIO.

IBM provided more than $5 million in equipment, design services and support to the project, including supplying the power generation equipment, IBM BladeCenter, IBM Power 575 and IBM z10 servers, as well as a DS8300 storage device. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) contributed $2 million to the project. Senator David Valesky announced earlier this week that he has secured $500,000 in additional funding from the New York State Senate for the project.

Sedore says it's hard to single out the most impressive green feature of the new center. "I think that the best view is the overall pursuit of 'greenness' in all aspects of the designed and planned operation. We have 'plugs and sockets' that let us connect everything across the layers of a data center operation," he says. "From power generation and distribution, cooling, and airflow to IT elements like storage, virtualization, networking and application performance, these allow us to fully optimize all aspects of the operation, not just for green or just for performance, but for green performance."

SU and IBM expect the data center will use about 50 percent less energy than a typical data center in operation today, which they say will make it one of the world's "greenest" computer centers. The 12 natural gas-fueled microturbines that power the data center can generate 800 kilowatts of electricity, says Bob Hanson, one of the IBM leaders on the project.

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