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IT systems run in exposed shed to prove reliability point

Patrick Thibodeau | Sept. 20, 2011
In an experiment that began in January, servers, networking gear and storage systems have been running in an simple shed without failure. Takeaway: IT equipment may be a lot tougher than you think.

There hasn't been a single hard drive failure, he said. The Cisco equipment is very resilient, said Filas. Some Cisco equipment has a manufacturer's upper temperature limit of 104 degrees, but Filas knows from experience that these systems can handle much more.

"Through unfortunate cooling outages, we have even had everything in a data center shut down except the Cisco equipment. The temperature was 117 degrees, and the Cisco equipment was purring away," Filas said.

Filas argues that there is no excuse why the inlet temperatures on equipment cannot be between 80 to 82 degrees, which has been his goal in the main data center. He considers that an ideal temperature range for a data center, and says it is a range that also includes a little bit of a safety margin.

The American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has also been raising temperature recommendations as a result of improvements in data center equipment, to an upper limit of 81 degrees, and is expected to increase the ranges again.

"I want my IT staff to be more comfortable with the higher temperatures," Filas said. "They are accustomed to having it being 65 degrees in the data center and they get very nervous when I dial up the temperature, even to the mid-70s."

"I'm trying to dispel the myth among my own staff that it has to be that cold, because it doesn't," Filas said.



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