Why do we care about data center power density?
One of the unique benefits of using our data centers is that we support high density. If you are not familiar with power density, it means the amount of power you can put in a given space. For example, some data centers are limited to 4 kilowatts (kW) per cabinet. At Net Access, we support up to 20 kW per cabinet.
Why is this important? The answer is simple: flexibility.
It is important to ask a potential colocation provider what power density they support so you know what amount of flexibility you have in each cabinet you buy.
Let's imagine you are using 10U blade servers in your environment, and each one uses about 4 kW of power. A cabinet is typically 40U - 45U; but if only 4 kW is supported per cabinet you will be using the max amount of power while only occupying 1/4 of the space in the cabinet.
If you have 4 of these blade servers, would you rather put them in 1 cabinet or 4? Since you are paying your colocation provider per cabinet, you can see that if you extrapolate this example out over a large environment, you will see huge inefficiencies in a low density environment.
So what's the big deal? Why don't all data centers just support high density?
Whether it's 40 1U servers or a full cabinet of blade chassis, a high power density makes sense, so why don't more colocation providers support high density? Most likely it's because high density is not easy to support.
Why is high density a challenge to host?
Historically data centers have allowed the hot air created by servers to be expelled back into the data center which contaminates the ambient air. Until recently, the solution to hot air contamination has been to deliver colder and colder air at higher and higher velocities and enforce strict density limitations on customers in an effort to limit hot-spots. The downside of battling cold air contamination in this method is incredible inefficiency, often requiring data centers to utilize as much as 50% of their available power on data center cooling.
The Net Access Approach to High Density Colocation
Net Access has taken a different approach to data center design with our high density colocation solution. Rather than focusing on the cold air delivery, we capture the hot air before it contaminates the data center environment. This means we no longer have to provide air colder than necessary to compensate for the mixing. Hot spots are eliminated which eliminates the need for high velocity cooling which prevents terrible working conditions in the way of wind noise and fatigue. The lack of a need for spot cooling also makes our high density colocation solution extremely efficient.
The byproduct of this efficiency is the ability to host incredible density per cabinet. Having a high density colocation environment means that you can fully utilize your cabinets today. It also means that you can continue to upgrade your environment well into the future; from 20 2U servers to 40 1U servers replaced with 4 blade chassis, fully utilizing your cabinets without expanding your footprint. This provides a great deal more flexibility than a low density implementation.
Why else is high density colocation advantageous?
Today's highly capable servers, including blade centers, can be great for your IT environment. They're more scalable, easier to deploy and manage, and are more redundant. High density colocation enables the efficient use of these technologies. It also enables consolidation of many cabinets of older servers into a much smaller footprint freeing existing cabinets for growth, leading to increased cost savings and efficiency.