Data Center Dynamics is an international organization with a single mission of sharing best practices among data center designers and operators around the world. The organization publishes a trade magazine called "Focus" and they have just released their January, 2012 edition. This edition is a retrospective look at 2011.
One of the articles included comments from some of the industry's leading players in response to two questions: "What was the most important data center development of 2011?" and "What single advancement will most positively impact the data center sector in 2012?"
Some of the responses were:
Bill Kosik; Principal data center energy technologist, HP Enterprise Business Technology Services:
"For the first time in 2011, many of our clients wanted to implement a design temperature of 75 degrees F for the inlet air to the IT equipment." "When you couple increased supply air temperatures with ultra-efficient air-conditioning equipment (indirect evaporative cooling as an example), you start to see PUEs drop into the low 1.2s/upper 1.1s..."
Andrew Donoghue; Analyst, The 451 Group:
"ASHRAE released a white paper....redefined and reclassified new allowable ranges up to 113 degrees F. Higher operating temperatures could mean that new facilities can be built without the need for expensive cooling technology, such as mechanical chillers."
Dileep Bhandarkar; distinguished engineer, Global Foundation Services, Microsoft:
"Broad recognition across the industry that free air cooling technology is now considered mainstream."
Jim Hearnden; Product technologist, data center power and cooling, Dell Services:
"Newer technology will permit higher server intake temperatures, which will be a great step forward in 2012."
The common thread through all of the comments is the drive to lower energy costs by raising server inlet temperatures. Most of the more advanced companies are even going to the point of using 100% outside air with no tempering at all. Aztec indirect evaporative cooling systems from Mestex, a division of Mestek, offer an alternative that filters and cools the air down to within 2 degrees of the wet bulb temperature (usually in the 70 to 80 degree range). This allows the designer and operator to have acceptable server inlet temperatures and still have a very low PUE. For installations that still need some degree of control over the air temperature and desire filtered, clean, air this might be the best solution.