How Top Companies Design and Run Their Data Centers (Part 2)

Mike Allen
August 28, 2014

"In the first part of this piece, we looked at Facebook'˜s data centers to show how a company that's integrally involved with information must have a data center infrastructure to back that up. By leveraging sustainable methods of center maintenance, Facebook is able to run some of the most formidable centers out there while at the same time leaving a very small footprint. But Facebook is not the only company that's devoted necessary time and attention to developing a data center infrastructure that's both efficient and sustainable. Here are some other large enterprises that practice similarly robust data center management:

Twitter
Like Facebook, Twitter is a service whose functionality rests almost solely on an ever-expanding base of user data. In a post last year, Twitter stated that its infrastructure handles 500 million new tweets a day. That comes out to 5,700 tweets a second. In order to be successful, Twitter needs not only to be able to provide a platform that people can always rely on, but also to have a means of storing tweets that have already been sent out. That's where the company's data center infrastructure comes into play.

Back in 2011, the company began using data center space in Atlanta, Georgia, among other places, according to Data Center Knowledge. But the sheer amount of traffic to the site - and the rapidity with which it was growing - necessitated an expansion. Fortunately, Twitter was leasing space from a company called Quality Technology Services, whose center offerings made it very easy for clients like Twitter to scale up or down as needed. Unlike Facebook, whose enterprise tendency has been to build centers of its own, Twitter has taken more tothe process of leasing out space, as Data Center Knowledge reported. There are pros and cons to taking this route. In the former category, companies can get center operations up and running a lot faster by leasing a space as opposed to all the work it takes to construct and launch a new one. Leasing also offers the ability to better regulate certain operational costs. But whereas Facebook has total autonomy over the energy-efficient solutions employed at its self-designed centers, Twitter does not enjoy that same independence in its leased spaces, since it's beholden to its center landlord.

However, Twitter certainly chose well in deciding to lease out space at QTS Metro in Atlanta. The 970,000 square-foot center uses raised floor space to better regulate air flow, which also goes a long way toward saving energy. In addition, the center is well-equipped both with leak detection equipment monitoring as well as computer monitoring of the center itself, guaranteeing that any potentially energy-wasting problem will be quickly pinpointed. Therefore, Twitter proves that by allying yourself with a conservation-oriented center, you can reap similar environmental benefits to if you'd founded the center yourself.

Google
When it comes to corporate data centers, Google in every way represents the top of the line. The company network of self-designed centers employ some of the most cutting-edge and sustainable technologies around to produce operations that are as cost-effective as they are eco-friendly. Here are a few of the different centers in Google's network:
The Dalles, Oregon: The company launched this center back in 2006, and for the better part of a decade it's not only been a sustainable enterprise, but also one that directly benefits the surrounding community. The presence of the center in The Dalles has opened up more than 80 jobs for locals, not to mention the $8.6 million that Google has charitably put toward the local community. In addition to that, the center runs very sustainably. As one striking image shows, spent water is sent from the top of the center in plumes of steam. In addition, the huge facility features a vast network of motion sensors that regulate the operations' lighting use. If there isn't activity in a certain sector of the center, the lights will switch off, leading to electricity conservation.
Dublin, Ireland: In 2011 Google began the nearly year-long task of building out a center in Dublin. What's great about Ireland is that it naturally offers temperatures that are conducive to optimal data center operations. Therefore, when Google launched the center in September 2012, they were able to harness the natural climate of Dublin to keep the center cool, thereby doing away with the costly HVAC expenditures that leave so many other data centers with huge footprints. Of course, building the Dublin center wasn't easy: To launch such an energy-efficient operation, it required a great deal of expertise. All told, 90 different building and engineering companies pitched in to bring the center to fruition. But the results were worth it. Through the advanced cooling system, the data center functions like a well-oiled machine - not to mention it's helped employ locals.
Berkeley County, South Carolina: While Dublin boasts a naturally ideal climate for data centers, the same can't exactly be said for Berkeley County, where the heat can easily grow stifling. But that didn't stop Google from building a top-tier data center there. The center uses water from a nearby rainwater retention pool to keep the building cool, and that's not where the environmental advantages end. As a Google Green video shows, this and other Google U.S. centers have been certified as ISO 40001. According to Environmental Leader, this certification is the first of its kind to be awarded to a large Internet services company. That Google received this kind of recognition only attests more strongly to its environmental commitment - and the recognition that such devotion receives.

For all companies out there, the examples of Facebook, Twitter and Google serve as top-tier examples of what is possible when it comes to corporate data centers. These days, the influx of information that many enterprises handle means that more and more will be turning to the construction of data centers. When this moment comes, it's important to remember the importance of operating not just efficiently, but sustainably as well."



    Mike Allen

    "In the first part of this piece, we looked at Facebook'˜s data centers to show how a company that's integrally involved with information must have a data center infrastructure to back that up. By leveraging sustainable methods of center maintenance, Facebook is able to run some of the most formidable ...

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