On Wednesday September 24, 2008 we hosted the second AFCOM Northern California chapter meeting in Sun's Santa Clara, CA auditorium. I'm the board VP for this chapter that started in April 2008. The focus for this meeting was the Chill Off 2 and the first Data Center Pulse round table.
CHILL OFF 2
After Jim Gammond (membership), Eric Stromberg (President) and Maricel Cerruti (Communications) concluded chapter business, I presented a quick summary of the findings from the first chill off we hosted in June 2008. Then I gave a summary of the approach for Chill Off 2. Next we brought up a panel of subject matter experts to discuss the details between each other and the 80+ profesionals that attended. The panel I moderated included:
- Mike Ryan, GDS Sr Staff Engineer - Sun Microsystems
- Olivier Sanche, Sr Director - Data Center Operations for eBay
- Phil Hughes, CEO of Clustered Systems
- Bill Tschudi, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL)
Mike was there to represent the vendors from the last chill off and the testing environment. He was the technical lead for the first chill off. Bill will be conducting the testing again this year as an independent party. Olivier has agreed to provide the workload definition that answers two important questions for ebay data center investments/operations. Phil is a new vendor in the test with a passive cooling solution that removes all the fans from the servers. We started with a few questions from me and then opened it up to the crowd for questions and input. It was a very lively session with most of the dialog coming from the audience which represented the entire data center community from consultants to engineers to manufacturers to end users. We received excellent feedback and were able to achieve what we set out to do, have the community infulence the direction of the chill off 2.
Some of the learnings/changes that will be made from this session:
Possibly have a mixture of hardware/vendors (blades, 1U, 2U, etc) in the test rather than all one form factor (sun x4100) - or do both?
2N testing down to N to compare efficiency losses.
Fault insertion that shows both equipment failures and humans faults such as opening the door of a container for maintenance, leaving a hole in an APC HACS, etc. Also, simulate moves adds and changes and their affect on the test environment.
Mix the work load in the test, not serial tests. So HPC, Web and enterprise all in one test as the mixed workload.
Add results from a tuned/contained raised floor/crac based DataCenter to the chart. Show the real differences, not just theoretical, against all the solutions. Current chart shows a traditional open raised floor/crac installation.
Standard communication protocol for data collection? How easily and effectively do these solutions tie into a BMS?
Compare main PDU, in-rack PDU wireless sensors, env monitors and server sensor efficiency. Include mixture of vendors that can meter down to the plug level and see how acurate they are compared to the internal server readings. Take temp and humidity readings across the equipment and the cooling devices to see how accurate they are.
A fully isolated environment so there are no questions about other in-room conditions affecting the tests. Also have the ability to watch the affect of raised water temps and raised inlet temp, on each solution.
TCO of each solution? This would be difficult, but would be very interesting data.
Remove all the server fans in the container and compare that to the regularly loaded test. In other words only use the containers in-line cooling fans to move air rather than the servers.
Do a full 3D CFD model of the solutions and compare that to what is actually seen. Future Facilities.
The presentations with the updates based on the session is coming soon. I would appreciate feedback on any area in the test/presentation. If there are companies that would be interested in including their products, services, support, expertise or time, please email me. firstname.lastname@example.org
DATA CENTER PULSE ROUNDTABLE
After a break for networking, we started what I hope to be a regular occurance at data center chapter meetings like this all over the world. Earlier in September, Mark Thiele and I started a new exclusive group that only includes datacenter owners and operators called Data Center Pulse. You can see the details in my earlier blog entry.
The panel we assembled was quite impressive. We had data center owners from Cisco, Apple, VMware, eBay, Stanford and the CEO of IDS, a new startup company putting datacenter co-lo space on container ships.
I asked a number of questions that had come up in our Data Center Pulse group through likedin, some others I had prepared and questions that came out naturally during the dialog/debate.
Check out the specific questions and responses in this round table session through the Data Center Pulse Blog. (click on blog)
In the end we ran out of time with the amount of discussion and healthy debate. After we were finished, I really felt that we should have filmed the session for the rest of the community to watch. Later, an industry friend of mine suggested that we hold these kinds of roundtable discussions on satelite radio so everyone could benefit from them. I thought that was a great idea, but we should try through a differnet medium. Video podcasts or YouTube. I travel quite a bit and could film these sessions and have interviews with different DC owners all over the globe. So, starting next week, Mark and I will be filming the first episode introducing the group. We have identified about 10 sessions we want to film including an upcoming trip I'm taking to Barcelona, Spain where I hope to have another DC Pulse roundtable session.
I'd be very interested in input from DC professionals around the globe. Is this something you would watch? Is it something you would want to participate in as a panelist? Would you be interested in letting us tour your DC to share the challenges and your solutions/learnings first hand with the community? Other ideas? We'd love to hear them.