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Sun data center goes less power-crazy

Company eats its own greens

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After 12 months of planning and construction, Sun Microsystems is opening the doors on its newly consolidated data center - and ready to pass the green Kool-Aid along to its customers.

Sun has reduced the area used by its hometown Santa Clara, California data center by half, from 254,000 sq. ft. to 127,000 sq. ft. The company plans to use the redesign as a showpiece for its eco-friendly commitment and to demonstrate know-how in improving data center efficiency.

In its Santa Clara data center, Sun has cut the number of servers from 2,177 to 1,240. The center's storage devices were consolidated from 738 to 225. The number of racks went from 550 to 65, which represents an 88 per cent compression of square footage for the racks.

For cooling, the company has integrated smart cooling devices, to gauge when and how much air conditioning should to be used, and removed cabling from the floor for maximum air flow. The remodel has cut power usage from 2.2 megawatts down to 500 kilowatts - lowering the companies carbon dioxide emissions by 4,100 tons every year.

Dave Douglas, Sun's veep of eco responsibility, said the changes should pay for itself in three years. On top of that, the company saved an estimated $9m by better utilizing the space it already has, rather than constructing a new data center. All that stretching room, and Sun estimates it increased its computing power by 456 per cent.

The new-and-improved Santa Clara data center has been online since June. Sun has also launched green initiatives at data centers in the UK and India.

With newly-found proof in its pudding, Sun is launching some new services to assess customer data centers for power and cooling issues. The menu ranges from a basic assessment at $10,000 to the full breakfast, with Sun experts walking customers through the process at $40,000.

The initiative mirrors that of other companies jumping head first into the green bandwagon. Recently, IBM announced its Big Green project to assess the efficiency of data centers. Similarly, Hewlett-Packard has beefed up its assessment program to include 3-D thermal mapping. ®

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