One of the cooler displays at PDC 2009 was a sample container that is something that is part of the Microsoft super data center strategy. To make Azure real, Microsoft has invested a ton into setting up the most state of the art data centers around the world. The idea is that Microsoft will provide a seamless means for customers to upload their applications, data, and capabilities to the cloud and leave the hardware, IT, and bandwidth management to them.
To meet these ends, Microsoft is building two rather significant data centers in each region of the world. Here is a video of the one in Chicago and some photos on one of the tours that someone took there.
Microsoft, for PDC 2009, wanted to show the development community what these data centers were like and instead of bringing the entire data center to Los Angeles, they did the next best thing and brought an entire container to the conference. The idea is that their data center has a rather modular setup and that these containers will be plugged in and run till a certain percentage of the servers fail and then they will interchange the faulty container for a new one. These containers are meant to be self running and self regulated.
It is interesting what the container has to do to regulate humidity and temperature.
** You can click on all the photos here to get a bigger view of them.
The container pulls in air through a series of air filters where the air then hits another type of filtered wall which gets water dropped through it to create a cool and humid means of keeping the contents of the container within a specific temperature and humidity level. This process is much like how the swamp-coolers of the mountain region of the United States have in a typical home. This air is then pulled through the server racks and then pulled out the back of the container. Though if things start getting too cooled, then the dampers in the upper part of the container open up a bit and let some of the air circulate back into the process thereby bringing the temperate back up to a level that they want.
Why so much focus on that temperature. Well, I was told the reason was that the server venders (which were Dell servers in this container) warranty the equipments only if it stays within a specific level of temperature and humidity. Here is a picture of some of these sensors:
Here, the sensor on the left monitors humidity and temperature both. There were four of these sensors and they were at the top part of the container. The sensor in the right photo was just a temperature sensor and there were eight of these. They were evenly spaced out so that there were some near the floor and some in the middle of the server racks.
This is a view of the space between the swamp-cooler system wall (on the left) and the air filtration wall of the right. In this photo, the air would move from the right to the left through the container. Here is a close up photo of the air filter wall:
Here is a photo of the server racks in the container:
Finally – here is the back side of the container. I’m not sure if the windows were for the display or if they are always there.
I like engineering and this was a fun tour. It will be a while before I get one of these in my homes! :)
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