I was at a meeting the other day, serving as a panelist at the Wikinomics book launch tour with Don Tapscott (interesting stuff, I’ll write about it when I’ve finished reading the book). During the pre-meeting schmooze I got talking to a University CIO and he was all excited about the Blackbox. “Huh?” I said; he’s in the middle of a city and has tons of nice modern buildings. It turns out his Seventies-era data center filled up a little faster than they’d predicted, and they have budget and location for a new one but that’s going to take a solid two years and by December of this year he’s looking at a big-bucks temporary upgrade of the old facility. An interim Blackbox in a shed probably saves him megabucks. I may have even helped a bit. I know his campus a bit, and I seem to remember what the temperature spec on the water hookup is (I won’t guess in public here though) and if I’m right, he’s got plenty of water that’s more than cool enough right there. So I said that and asked him “Are you sure you’re going to need cooling?” and he brightened right up; if I’m right, he just saved another pile of dough. Anyhow, looks to me like the product has legs; I read somewhere the other day that we’re going to be getting competition, which is unsurprising.


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From: Paul Marsh (Apr 07 2007, at 10:35)

Using a municipal water source for cooling may or may not be a permitted use. Municipal water is treated to drinking level standards and quite a lot of effort goes into ensuring the quality of potable water.

If it is a permitted use, then you'll want to advise them to get a special agreement with the provider about watermain breaks and/or power failures. There was a very interesting story that surfaced after the eastern seaboard blackout of a municipality whose entire data centre was cooled by water and came within a few hours of having no cooling water at all. (No one at the public works department even knew the datacenter was there!)

Once the pumps stop, then the system will usually have 24 hours to "float" on gravity supply from reservoirs.

In the event of a pipe break in the neighbourhood of your datacenter, then the public works department will shut off supply to the area to isolate the break and make repairs. Repairs can take a few hours to a few days depending on a whole bunch of factors.

Either way, you should consider redundant systems to provide your cooling.


From: Matthew Laird (Apr 08 2007, at 09:07)

Indeed, following up to Paul Marsh's comment, one must really consider the morality of using water cooling tied to the municipal system in these days of global warming.

There are concerns of fresh water shortages developing across the globe, some have already begun (ie. China), some are going to hit traditionally water plentiful areas. So the Blackbox product, which is part of Sun's green push, this idea of water cooling unless it's a self-contain recycling system, might go against this environmental direction the company is taking.

As Sun thought about fitting the roof with solar panels or perhaps a windmill add-on? :)


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