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Data Center Cooling Best Practices: Lessons From Google

When it comes to data center cooling best practices, it’s a field that’s evolving all the time. To understand what the current best practices are and how they are likely to develop, look at an industry leader, such as Google.

Google’s entire business is data. Their search algorithms are the pathway through which most people experience the Internet. The success of those algorithms depends on crunching data on the largest scale, processing 6-9 billion searches a day (depending on the source, Google doesn’t share its numbers). Each search is evaluated to determine how happy users are with the results, as these can determine future rankings. On top of the searches, Google makes its money with advertising, which is an entirely separate layer of data processing. In other words, Google processes a lot of data, and it relies on the health of its data centers to maintain its key position in the market.

Recently, Google has made numerous changes to its data centers to improve their health, function, and efficiency. Here’s what we can learn from their changes.

1. Cooler Not Always Better

One of the biggest changes Google has made to its data centers is to change the target temperature for its data centers. In the past, it was standard practice to keep data centers at a chilly 64° F. This made a data center heavily reliant on mechanical cooling systems (air conditioning).

However, Google experimented with raising the temperature in its data centers and found that they were able to raise the temperature to 80° F without sacrificing performance or reliability. This gave them more options for maintaining their target temperature.

2. Use Outside Air

data center coolingWithout having to achieve such a low temperature, Google began to experiment with other cooling approaches. They found that evaporative cooling was the big winner.

Evaporative cooling is a straightforward process. A fan blows hot ambient air over evaporative media. Evaporative media is like a very advanced sponge. It absorbs water and lets air pass through it. As the hot air passes through, the water evaporates, taking heat out of the air. This cools the air. Think of how cool you feel when you’re running, and a breeze picks up, evaporating the sweat off your body. It’s the same principle.

Google found that this process was so efficient that they made evaporative cooling their default approach to data center cooling, and it paid off. This, combined with other techniques, allowed Google to operate its data centers with 50% less energy usage than the industry standard.

3. Learn to Be Lean

However, this was not enough of a reduction for Google. Remember, their entire business is data, and reducing data center costs translates directly to profit. To improve their data center efficiency further, Google engineers invented a learning algorithm that looked at power usage and cooling to further optimize the system.

This intelligent approach to data center cooling enabled them to reduce their cooling costs by another 40%. Now Google operates its data centers with an amazingly low PUE (power usage effectiveness) of 1.1 (or 1.06 depending on how you draw the lines), compared to an industry average of 1.8. In other words, about 91% of the energy used by their data center goes directly to computing, not cooling or other energy overhead. This makes them a great model for designing the best cooling system for your data center.

Let Kuul Help You Implement These Best Practices

If you are looking to cool your new data center utilizing these best practices, Kuul can help. Although we can’t supply you with an advanced AI that teaches your data center how to be more efficient, we can help you liberate your data center from the tyranny of mechanical cooling systems.

If you are looking to make a data center that relies primarily on evaporative cooling technology, the evaporative media you choose is the key determinant of how efficient that system will be. You need evaporative media that provides highly effective cooling without forcing your blowers to work too hard. Kuul Evolution FirePro™ evaporative media can achieve 98% effectiveness at low speeds and remains 90% effective at the highest blower settings. Plus, Kuul Evolution FirePro presents nearly 20% less blower resistance than competitors’ evaporative media. This, combined with UL 900-compliant flame resistance, makes Kuul Evolution FirePro a great choice for your data center cooling.

Please contact Kuul today to learn more about implementing an efficient, effective cooling system at your data center.