Data Center Noir

Data Center Noir - Compass DatacentersEditors Note: Here at Compass, we take all of our gifts seriously. One of our aspiring team members has always had a hankering for all things detective story, from Dick Tracy to Phillip Marlowe. While never having the gumption to actually quit a day job and create for a living, this team member finally has a hybrid outlet: The Compass Points Blog. Now, newly equipped with Compass Points as a publisher, our team member finally has the spark, that modicum of creativity that can produce what we at Compass call, « Data Center Noir ». Our team member, whose pen name is Raze Fleur, hopes you enjoy the first of many short stories in the dark world of Data Center Noir.

It was late and I was at the dregs of my energy for the day. Velma had gone home for the evening and I was just about to lock up the office. Then he walked in. His jacket and tie fit him like a first communion suit, and his nervous fidgeting immediately put my teeth on edge. “Mr. Crosby?” he croaked in a voice that made nails on a chalkboard sound like an aria. “I’m Crosby”, I answered as I rose and nodded in the general direction of the chair across from my desk. As he sank into the faded leather his eyes danced around my office with the practiced effort of a man who sees anything except what’s in front of his face.

“What can I do for you friend?”, I said as I reached for the bottle I keep in my drawer and two glasses that had been clean when I bought them. “Drink?”, I asked. He shook his head no. I poured one for myself. “What seems to be the problem?” He looked at me like a kid called to the board to solve an algebra problem.

While still averting my gaze, he pulled himself together long enough to blurt out, “My data center operating temperature doesn’t seem right. I’ve been running the facility at 22°C but I just have a feeling something’s wrong”.

“Wrong how”, I asked. It was obvious that getting information from this guy was going to be about as easy as making a nun renounce her vows.

He squirmed in his chair like a four year old at a dental appointment. I was reaching the limits of my world famous lack of patience, so I decided to go a little harder on him.

“Look”, I said, “I don’t have time for every mug that walks through that door and tries to play coy with me. Spit it out or get out. You’re wasting my time”.
He jerked like he’d just taken a cold slap to the face.

“I want to operate my facility at a higher temperature and relative humidity but I’m not sure of the limits. I’ve seen the ASHRAE 9.9 ranges, the 2008 version, I mean, but I’m still not sure about the impact on reliability”.

I could tell that he was the kind of mook that viewed curiosity as one of the seven deadly sins; so I was going to have to pretty well lay things out for him. I picked up my glass and let the whiskey slide down my throat in a single draw. I could still feel the sting as I said:

“You need to read the Green Grid report, Data Center Efficiency and IT Equipment Reliability at Wider Operating Temperature and Humidity Ranges”.
He gave me a wall-eyed stare but I continued.

“Listen kid, It describes the evolution of ASHRAE’s temperature and humidity guidance, including their 2011 update. They’ve established four data center classes, A1-A4, with a product operational range of 18-27°C (dry bulb temperature) and non-condensing humidity range of 5.50C DP to 60% RH and 150C DP”.

“What about the impact on cooling?” he responded.

“Operating within the higher ranges prescribed by ASHRAE actually provides a great deal of flexibility to data center operators in terms of cooling”, I answered. “Especially, free air cooling. The Green Grid found in 2009 that when a data center operated up to the 27°C in the recommended range, air-side economization could be used most of the time in most world wide geographies. And their 2012 free cooling maps show that operations up to the limits of the ASHRAE Allowable range of 35°C could support the use of economizers up to 8500 hours in 75% of North American geographies”.

He eased back in his chair.

“This has been very helpful even though I think you just called me an idiot in so many words. I’m going to download that report”.

He leaned forward and gestured toward his empty glass, “I think I’ll have that drink now”. I filled both glasses. He ravenously drained his with the urgency of a sailor who just arrived in port.

He got up and shook my hand with the ferocity of a turbo driven piston. I wished him well and watched him walk out the door. I felt a little bad about going so hard on him, but that’s my job. I finished my drink and put the bottle away–leaving the glasses on my desk. Then I straightened my tie, grabbed my fedora, locked the office and opened the door to the street. The flicker of the streetlights winked back at me from the puddles left over from the afternoon rain. I raised my jacket collar around my neck. The night was cold…