by clicking on the page. A slider will appear, allowing you to adjust your zoom level. Return to the original size by clicking on the page again.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider on the top right.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field and click on "In This Issue" or "All Issues" to search the current issue or the archive of back issues respectively.
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
this publication and page.
displays a table of sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays thumbnails of every page in the issue. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse through every available issue.
GCN : March 2013
34 GCN MARCH 2013 • GCN.COM WE ALL KNOW THAT HEAT is the enemy of computers. In fact, if we think of computers as an ecosystem, heat is prob- ably its only naturally occur- ring predator. And it s ironic that they generate it them- selves, even though it s simple physics. You bring electricity into a system to do work for you, and it gets transformed into something else without changing the total amount of energy involved --- in this case, mostly heat. Heat is a unique enemy of processors. It s akin to a poison, first slowing down its victim, then causing it lots of subtle damages and finally killing it. Data centers, which pack thousands of computers into a relatively small space, are uniquely susceptible to the risks of heat. They deal with it in various ways, and have been criticized for being inef- ficient beasts of burden for it. As agencies consolidate data centers and virtualize servers, finding new ways to keep them cool could add one more way to reduce costs and increase e ciency. Many companies o er examples, streamlining their data centers with new techniques and processes. IDC Government Insight says federal agencies will need to incorporate some of those tactics in order to use comput- ers, data centers and the cloud more e ectively. Recently, Google pulled back the curtain on how it manages heat in some of the largest data centers in the world. Google strips almost every unnecessary component and scrap of metal away from the processors inside its data center, leaving the computers in their racks as little more than pallets holding mother- boards. Even the internal walls of the data center are con- structed of fabric --- enough to direct air flow in the proper direction, but not enough to add to the complex problems associated with heat manage- ment. They are also cheap, and easy to reconfigure on the fly. Google also runs a lot of water into the facility, often having the cooling pipes within inches of the processors themselves. While that s an e cient model, Microsoft is going one step further, literally setting its servers outside in roofless data centers. According to Data Center Knowledge, the idea behind Microsoft s new billion-dollar roofless data center facility in Boydton, Va., came from Christian Belady, general manager of Micro- soft Data Center Services. In 2008, he thought computers should be able to brave the outdoors, and set up a server rack in a pup tent. It ran for eight months with 100 percent up time, demonstrating that outdoor computer cooling and housing was theoretically feasible. Of course, it involves more than just dropping a computer in a field and hoping it doesn t get rained or snowed on. Because if you leave it in the elements, that will happen. And it will break. But Microsoft has been designing smaller and smaller containers to hold its servers for years. Called IT-PACs, for pre-assembled components, the shipping-crate-like boxes can each hold hundreds of servers. Cool air from the outside is brought into the unit through vents on the side of the containers, where it passes through a wet membrane that cools the air and ultimately the servers. This method report- edly uses just 10 percent of the water needed to cool most data centers of the same size. Future Microsoft data cen- ters may be little more than concrete slabs on the ground, with the IT-PACs sitting on top. And although there is some concern that Virginia s climate might prove too hot for this method to work --- the compa- ny also has experimented with outdoor cooling in Washington State, Chicago and Ireland --- Microsoft seems confident that it will do just fine in the Old Dominion. • MICROSOFT, GOOGLE BRING BREATH OF FRESH AIR TO DATA CENTER SYSTEMS BY JOHN BREEDEN II EMERGING TECH At this Google data center in Hamina, Finland, cool airflow throughout the facility taps the country's northern climate to prevent overheating. AP IMAGES