Cisco details green datacentre

Cisco details green datacentre

Summary: Cisco has unveiled a new, environmentally-conscious datacentre, designed to demonstrate the value of having a homogenised network hardware stack.The Allen, Texas-based facility, announced on Friday, uses Cisco's Unified Fabric, Unified Computing and Unified Networking services hardware to create a homogenous network backbone.

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TOPICS: Storage
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Cisco has unveiled a new, environmentally-conscious datacentre, designed to demonstrate the value of having a homogenised network hardware stack.

The Allen, Texas-based facility, announced on Friday, uses Cisco's Unified Fabric, Unified Computing and Unified Networking services hardware to create a homogenous network backbone. Additional hardware and software comes from Cisco's partners EMC, NetApp and VMware.

It has a PUE score of 1.35. PUE expresses the proportion of power that is used to run non-IT hardware, so a PUE of 1.35 means that for every unit of power spent on the IT equipment, .35 units are spent on power, cooling and other supporting infrastructure.

This score reflects a more expensive use of power, as a higher proportion goes on non-revenue generating hardware, than in other modern, efficient datacentres. By comparison, a two-year-old facility that processes data for the oil and gas sector has a PUE figure of 1.12, a recent Colt modular co-location facility has 1.21 and Google operates a fleet with PUEs of between 1.10 and 1.21.

Cooling in the Cisco datacentre is delivered via a mixture of free and mechanical methods, as the relatively hot southern state limits the use of 'free' outside air to 65 percent of the time.

Power-wise, the facility takes down 5MW but has the ability to scale up to 10. The facility's office spaces are powered by solar panels.

Update: The datacentre has around 38,000 square feet of IT floor space containing between 800 and 1,000 racks, James Cribari, director of Cisco's global datacentre program told ZDNet UK on Tuesday.

Besides the solar panels, Cisco has also made a couple of further design choices to increase its green credentials, notably by replacing the facility's universal power supply with flywheels, instead of more carbon-intensive batteries, and by using overhead cabling rather than under-rack.

"There is an argument in the industry that implementing a computer-accessed floor in this day and age is non-environmentally friendly," Cribari said. "This is a [datacentre] design that we have evolved to and expect to improve upon."

Topic: Storage

Jack Clark

About Jack Clark

Currently a reporter for ZDNet UK, I previously worked as a technology researcher and reporter for a London-based news agency.

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  • Doesn't sound very green to me, given the PUE figures that you rightly cite, Jack. One idea I've heard that might make sense if you must place a datacentre in a hit area is to bury it: get it out of the sun by excavating a big hole and covering it up.

    I know there are datacentres using ex-military facilities deep underground (eg The Bunker in Kent), but I'm not sure if anyone's actually dug a purpose-built hole yet....
    Manek Dubash
  • @ Manek, you're right, the PUE does seem a bit high doesn't it? I've sent them some questions. I've heard the same thing regarding placing stuff underground and have been told by a couple of people that the military likes to do this, but haven't found a company that has monetised around it yet.
    Jack Clark