The "butterfly effect" is a term drawn from science fiction time travel stories that refers to how a seemingly minor change can have major repercussions down the line. With the introduction of their new modular datacenters and their "butterfly" shape, it looks like HP is hoping to change the way future datacenters are designed.
Called the HP Flexible Datacenter the goal is to deliver greenfield datacenters at a significant reduction in cost and take advantage of the latest in energy efficiency and cooling technologies. The butterfly shape of the datacenter comes from the design with a central support core being the body and the lobes of the butterfly wings being individual modular datacenter quadrants each capable of supporting 800 kilowatts of energy demand, allow each modular structure to deliver 3.2 megawatts of IT power.
The butterfly can make use of the latest in cooling technologies, utilize environmental cooling in appropriate areas, be built up on demand, and, according to HP, represent significant cost savings over the life of the facility, ranging from 55% less for site and facility development to a 37% reduction in the total present value cost over standard 20-year projected data center life.
The modularity of the Flexible DC design is the key to this program. While not as quick to deploy as a containerized datacenter, the modular design allows for additional capacity to be quickly built up as additional lobes are added to the butterfly wings. (This metaphor will be getting old, quickly). It's the self-contained aspect of each module that will allow the business to grow the datacenter capacity if not quite on-demand, but in a logical easily budgeted and managed fashion, without the need to pay for the facility costs of maintaining empty building space in the hope of being prepared for future datacenter growth.
A detailed white paper is available on the Flexible datacenter concept and can be downloaded directly from HP. While customers may not hop directly onto the HP bandwagon regarding their datacenters, the concepts presented could have a long lasting impact on the way future datacenters are planned.