Earlier this year ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers), changed the acceptable humidity and temperature ranges for an operating environment containing enterprise servers and storage. The old range was between 20 and 25 C, and 40 to 50 percent humidity, but newer ranges offer much greater latitude with guidelines for temperature being 15 to 32 C and 20 to 80 percent humidity.
We’ve seen for some time that companies like Google have been pushing the envelope of these ranges in an effort to bring down cooling costs. But we’re now hearing that Japanese IT company NEC is developing a small portable data center that will leverage what the company describes as “convection” cooling to completely rely on outside air cooling by relying on bringing cool air in with hot air from servers flowing out. This sounds an awful lot like the hot and cold aisle system combined with outside air cooling that Google, Facebook and others have been working on for some time.
What’s interesting is that Japan, a country with severe energy and land challenges, is taking to a portable data center that is just 6 meters in length and can be easily deployed in diverse climates from Sapporo in Northern Japan to urban Tokyo. While connectivity and the cloud should still dominate computing, these energy efficient portable data centers could offer more private cloud solutions for medium sized businesses.