Cool runnings: IBM's recipe for a happy datacentre, in pictures

Cool runnings: IBM's recipe for a happy datacentre, in pictures

Summary: How do you make your datacentre run better, and save money? At IBM's research labs and facilities in upstate New York, three ideas are uppermost on people's minds: energy efficiency, monitoring, and utilisation.

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  • Getting a datacentre's infrastructure right is a huge part of the battle - but it goes hand in hand with better monitoring.

    IBM developed its Measurement & Management Technologies (MMT) to better understand power usage in its datacentres. Naturally enough, it's now them to clients.

    MMT comes in a manual version and a robot version - pictured above is the manually-guided sensor trolley, which gathers data from sensors placed all around the room to create a 3D heat map.

    "Measure chiller power, measure cooling tower power, measure pump power, measure the IT – and then plot it," says Schmidt.

  • In the corner, a bank of monitors displays an array of data gleaned from the room's sensors and run through IBM's Tivoli software. 

    Monitoring can save around 20 percent of energy in the datacentre, Schmidt says.

  • But if advances in cooling tech and better monitoring deliver a more efficient datacentre, there's a catch: usage just keeps going up and up. "Even though the performance-per-watt has improved significantly, clients buy more and more of the equipment. They can't get enough of it," Schmidt says (our obsession with storing everything - from work documents to family photos and videos - is only adding to the load).

    To keep pace with demand, utilisation of equipment has to be better, Schmidt argues, citing the example of a humble laptop: Task Manager will tell you how much of your system is being utilised - and it's usually just a couple of percent. "But the power is max power. It doesn't make sense," Schmidt says. "So there's a lot of effort on ramping the power with the performance now. If you are using that performance, and you don't need the power, start turning stuff off, or put it in sleep mode."

    In terms of datacentres, the aim is to get utilisation up to 50 percent.

    And while energy efficiency, monitoring and utilisation remain IBM's prescription for a healthy datacentre,  Schmidt will continue looking to improve IT cooling technology. IBM's roots with water cooling go all the way back to 1964, and the company is still sticking with it: "I don't see us deviating from that, but we always look at other technologies, in case we're missing something," he says.

Topics: Cloud, Data Centers, Datacentre Tour, Emerging Tech, IBM, Servers

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3 comments
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  • IBM's racks suck!

    Take a look at the cable management. It is Horrible. We had a project where IBM brought in their own RACK as part of a solution and had to live with it for 5 years until we finally got rid of that garbage. There is virtually none or poor cable management. We standardized on APC Wide and Deep racks with proper cable management and its far superior. They really need to do something about this if they want to provide complete solutions that work well in a professional server environment. I'd send back any solution that strings cables everywhere like that. Just my 2 cents.
    Drewidian
  • half?

    "So you want to make the infrastructure half of the pie as small as possible."

    I think I see your problem.
    RedEmma
  • Blue glow

    What are those racks with the blue glow in between the Netezza and the System z? Power 795?
    AdamS12