Summary:

Cisco today took the covers off a new Allen, Texas, data center that will serve as the foundation for Cisco’s private cloud computing effort, which it calls Cisco Elastic IT Services. The new data center is designed for maximum efficiency and to withstand tornado winds.

Data Center Hall in Cisco's new green data center.

Data Center Hall in Cisco's new green data center.

Cisco today took the covers off a new Allen, Texas, data center that will serve as the foundation for Cisco’s private cloud computing effort, which it calls Cisco Elastic IT Services. The new data center is, no surprise, packed full of the latest Cisco gear and is designed for maximum efficiency and to withstand the elements in Tornado Alley.

Cisco highlights a number of features, including:

  • rotary flywheels in lieu of batteries for the uninterruptable power supply (UPS)
  • an air-side economizer Cisco estimates can use ambient outside air instead of mechanical cooling 65 percent of the time, resulting in $600,000 annual savings in cooling costs.
  • 100 kilowatts of rooftop solar power for the building’s offices.
  • a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric of 1.35.
  • the ability to withstand tornado winds up to 175 mph.

Cisco also claims use of its Unified Computing System gear, which integrates computing, storage and networking elements into a single rack, reduces the number of switches and the amount of cabling required, leading to less energy use and better airflow around the server racks.

Most important to Cisco’s internal cloud users, however, might be the data center’s active/active architecture achieved through a direct connection to a nearby data center in Richardson, Texas. Both sites run applications simultaneously, resulting in a dynamic environment — Cisco calls it a Metro Virtual Data Center — that assures availability of resources and provides real-time disaster recovery. Availability is an interesting concept in cloud computing, because although the notion of computing in the cloud conveys images of globally distributed application infrastructure, many public clouds run applications on a single set of servers in a single data center. If geographic distribution is available, such as with Amazon Web Services’ Availability Zones, it comes with additional costs.

Data centers and efficiency have always been a hot topic, but more so lately thanks to Facebook open-sourcing its designs for energy-efficient data centers and servers, as well as to an AFCOM survey showing the myriad methods data center operators are using to cut energy costs. We’ll continue to cover the cutting edge in data center design at our Green:Net conference on April 21, where experts from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo will discuss best practices for super efficiency. Cisco will be on hand, too, to talk about how smarter networks, sensors and software can lead to smarter grids and better-connected cities.

Image courtesy of Cisco Systems.

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