Let's be real. It is sort of difficult to test the side-by-side claims of one green data center practice or technology against another. So, Hewlett-Packard is trying to make it a bit easier for both is own services team and its customers: The company is dedicating a portion of its 50,000-square-foot Colorado Springs, Colorado, data center to running what it calls "sustainable data center technologies."
In the south side of its facility, the HP Labs team is trying out everything from new sensors and data analytics to free air-side cooling techniques and microgrid technologies. The technologies being tested are part of the HP Labs Sustainable Data Center Project. One of the keys is environmental sensors that measure everything from heat to humidity and other data.
The center is split into two primary halls. All other things being equal, HP will be more closely able to monitor how specific architectural or technology changes to one side of the facility help that side perform vis a vis the status quo. "We will be able to judge the delta between the two data centers," said Doug Oathout, vice president for Green IT (and Converged Infrastructure) with HP.
For example, HP plans to closely study the impact of adjusting IT workloads on the cooling needs of the data center or the effect of moving loads from one sort of disk storage technology to another. The research facility will include air- and water-side economizers that use the ambient low humidity and cool air of the Rocky Mountains region to HP's advantage. When I spoke with Oathout, he said that in the winter months, this side of the data center can draw on outside air approximately 75 percent of the time for its cooling needs. That compares with about 66 percent in the fall and 25 percent during the summer months; so you can see how different climates and seasons would be a critical factor in location selection.
As you might expect, this living and breathing sustainability test bed relies mainly on HP technologies, so I expect we will hear about it often in coming months as HP and its competitors turn up the green data center heat.