Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reflecting on the US trip

As I wait for my flight in Albuquerque's Sunport Airport, enroute to Hong Kong, it was a good time to reflect back on what was learned on this trip. I have been working in the application space for quite a while now, and it is interested to look at it at the infrastructure/facility perspective. On this trip, I get to meet some very experienced people in the realm of data centre cooling and it is interesting to compare and contrast their approaches.

Wally Phelps from AdaptivCool is very knowledgeable in the science of fluid dynamics and equipment cooling in general. Their "active" approach to data centre cooling probably stem from their deep experience in equipment cooling and heat dissipation design for electronic devices. Their complete suite of active components (fans with controls and sensors) combined with a web-enabled air-flow management software allow the system to actively sense changes in temperature and move air around to manage the cooling of the data centre.

I also got to meet Lars Strong from Upsite Technologies, the company founded by Ken Brills, who also founded the Uptime Institute, a leading body in data centre management. In comparison, the products from Upsite Technologies first appears much more primitive. The main products include, blanking panels, brush seals from cable openings and temperature sensing strips. These simple plastic-looking material will be a tough sell when they command such a high price. Would their brand name, design and quality assurances worth the price premium? After talking to Lars, he did point out some interesting points which show a lot of thoughts has actually been put into designing the products. Here are some of them I remembered:
  1. The blanking panels are designed such that they can be easily stacked. This allows the blanking panel shipments to be unpacked on site outside the data centre and brought in to the equipment rooms. Why is this important? For a well managed data centre, it is important to keep the equipment room clean. Cardboard boxes and packing material can create a lot of debris and dust when the unpacking is done inside the equipment room.
  2. The blanking panels and brush cable opening seal are made of conductive material (not simple plastic) which prevent buildup of static electricity and help dissipative static build up.
This is it for now, I am about to board my flight.

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