Unreliable power means diesel for HP data center

BANGALORE, INDIA - Hewlett-Packard Co. has built a data center in Bangalore, India, that will be powered by diesel fuel because of the unreliability of local power supplies.

Such energy self-reliance is how most data centers operate in Bangalore, HP said. But the approach comes with an energy cost that could be nearly four times what it would be at a California-based data center.

HP claims that the 70,000-square-foot data center may be one of India's largest IT facilities. It consolidates 14 existing facilities ranging in size from closets to computer rooms with a few thousand square feet of floor space. They had been used by the Bangalore research and development operation of the company's HP Labs unit.

The vendor is trying to make the best of Bangalore's unreliable electrical grid by using the new data center to demonstrate its Dynamic Smart Cooling technology, which uses small sensors to monitor the temperature of systems.

Under HP's scheme, five sensors are placed on both the front and back of individual server racks. HP has installed about 7,500 of the sensors in the new data center, said John Sontag, director of virtualization and data center architecture at HP Labs.

Diesel fuel is "the power of choice in Bangalore," Sontag said. He added that HP will keep a supply of 170,000 liters - or about 45,000 gallons - of fuel on hand at the data center.

But the cost of diesel means that HP is paying upward of 26 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with electricity costs in California that can range from 7 to 14 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Sontag said that the temperature sensors, which are connected by wires and send readings to a centralized control panel, have enabled HP to reduce its initial power consumption at the facility by about 20%. And he said he thinks that the power-reduction level can reach 40% as the sensor-based system is optimized.

The system adjusts fan speeds and the amount of chilled water that is being circulated to cool the data center. According to Sontag, many data centers "overprovision" by installing more cooling technologies than needed - an added cost that the sensors are designed to avoid.


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