The idea of using air from outside the data centre to cool IT equipment has been around for a few years, but so far few organisations have been up to the technical challenge. It is not simply a matter of opening a window, as server components are vulnerable to excess moisture.
That may well change in 2011, says Andrew Harrison, head of engineering giant Arup’s science and industry division. The reason, he says, is that the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is preparing to publish a guidebook on installing and operating so-called ‘outside air economisers’. “If ASHRAE is supporting it,” Harrison explains, “it gives the engineers more confidence.”
That could be good news for data centre bill payers. A pilot project by chipmaker Intel found that outside air economisers could, in the right environment, reduce data centre power consumption by 67%, while it is estimated that a new facility built by IBM for Dumfrieshire and Galloway Council will save £20,000 a year thanks to fresh air cooling.