For insight about potential cloud data center energy challenges, take a page from the telcos

New efficiency technology for telco data centers could inform work on cloud data centers.

One trend working counter to our desire to reduce power consumption is our bid to become increasingly mobile, which demands alot out of the telecommunications data centers that are supporting us on the road. Not to mention the smart grid, which will require support for literally millions of short burst transactions, once it's up and running across our utility network. But that's a subject for another post.

Anyway, Lineage Power is eying this demand as the cooling requirements for data centers that support these applications scale to accommodate the growth of service provider networks. The company is this week starting to ship its Total Efficiency power architecture, which is focused on supporting fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. Why? Because according to Lineage Power, the typical iPhone user spends 300 percent more time on the Internet than those using other smart phones. Meanwhile, the Motorola Droid will drive Ethernet over fiber deployments to 90 percent of cell sites by 2013, according to Lineage Power's briefing materials.

There are two big reasons this launch is interesting to me. First, because Lineage supports end-to-end power requirements with this line, which means it has ruggedized power equipment for outdoor equipment huts and shelters (definitely required for smart grid deployments). Second, the company just received a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to support research and development related to the Total Efficiency architecture. That money will be focused on how to minimize the heat loss and power waste associated with service provider infrastructure.

Consider this comment from Lineage Power CEO Craig Witsoe:

"As consumer demand for mobile smartphones, e-book readers and tablet computers increases, telecom infrastructures will be pushed to support thousands of voice, video and data applications. Existing 3G and new 4G/LTE wireless networks that deliver these applications require increased power capacity and optimal conversion efficiency."

Trent Waterhouse, vice president of marketing for Lineage Power, says that the company is working together with Verizon to benchmark its Total Efficiency technology, which supposedly operates in the 97 percent efficiency range. That compares with 88 percent efficiency for other legacy telecommunications power infrastructures. Consider that Verizon spends $1 billion ANNUALLY just to cool its network, and you understand immediately why this is a big deal.

Lineage Power focuses on DC technology, which it feels is the most efficient option for these sorts of applications.

"If you look at the end-to-end power conversion, you will find that the most efficient architecture is the DC architecture," says Mark Johnson, head of research and development for Lineage Power. In Johnson's mind, this helps improve reliability. Aside from telcos, Lineage Power will partner with players in the cloud computing space to continue refining and improving its technology.

Incidentally, Lineage Power is one of a number of companies that moved in early February to create the Michigan Alliance for High-Tech Skills Training, which is focused on retraining workers in the state who may be been displaced as the result of the recession. The curriculum supported by this group will be offered by Henry Ford Community College.