Big Blue Puts 'Green Machine' to Work

By Andy Patrizio (Send Email)
Posted Jul 11, 2008


IBM announced the first big hosting agreement for its new energy-efficient data center in Colorado, a massive facility meant to be a model for energy efficiency. The company has also installed another supercomputer worthy of the Top 500 supercomputer list, this one for weather prediction.

IBM turns on its energy-efficient data center, with a new component inside: a major customer.

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IBM opened its 115,000-square-foot Boulder, Colo., data center in June. It's the largest data center the company has ever built, and it is also a model for efficient computing, having been dubbed "The Green Machine."

For starters, it will take advantage of Boulder's climate, so when exterior temperature and humidity levels are favorable, the new data center will switch to free-cooling mode using a water economizer to reduce energy consumption. Rather than refrigerate the water, it will let cold air outside do the work.

Alternative-energy sources will partially power the facility. This includes more than 1 million kilowatt hours per year of wind-powered electricity IBM purchased from Xcel Energy. IBM claims this will result in a reduction of approximately 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide produced per year.

The center also has variable-speed pumps and motors in the air conditioning systems to balance the cooling capacities to the actual load, and it has low-sulfur diesel generators to provide emergency backup power.

The result is a data center 40 percent more efficient than one without heat exchangers for free-cooling. A room for further improvement remains, according to IBM. "There are all kinds of opportunities for datacenter efficiency," Joe Dzaluk, vice president of infrastructure and resource management at IBM, told InternetNews.com. "An EPA report found two-thirds of energy brought in to datacenter is wasted or misused. Strictly speaking, that's all waste."

IBM won't be keeping the Boulder facility to itself. It's the size of two football fields, after all. Juniper Networks on Wednesday announced it signed a five-year hosting agreement to have IBM support Juniper's global operations. IBM will provide Juniper with a hosting environment for its enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) application deployments worldwide.

"We turned to IBM for an innovative and environmentally friendly solution to scaling our IT infrastructure and business-critical application deployments in-line with the escalating demands of our business," said Michele Goins, chief information officer at Juniper Networks, in a statement.

This article was originally published on InternetNews.com.

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