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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Attending the DatacenterDynamics Show in New York City

Just checked into the DCD show held at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.  Looking forward for an exciting day and catching up with friends. 

Waiting for the main opening session to start and will try to post updates throughout the day. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year and May the Force Be With You All !

This is the 3rd year of my blog and I want to take a moment to wish all my readers and friends a Happy New Year and best wishes for 2016. I've certainly had a busy 2015 growing my business, RYN Engineers, LLC and I look forward to an exciting and prosperous year ahead. 

I thought I would share this link from Google Trends for the most searched topics in 2015; and on that closing note:


Friday, December 4, 2015

NVTC Data Center Committee Meeting Highlights

Always exciting to attend the NVTC Data Center & Cloud Committee meetings; this morning the speakers were Buddy Rizer and Dr. A. Fletcher Mangum. 

Some of the highlights from the meeting: 

- Data Center Market looks healthy for continued growth through 2020
- As other states catch up, they are giving lucrative incentives for data centers. We have to realize the competitive environment where Northern Virginia (NOVA) is no longer the "only" option 
- NOVA surpassed NY/NJ region as largest data center market in the U.S. 
- Five of the top cloud campuses are in NOVA -and particularly in Loudoun and Prince William Counties.  

- Loudoun County offers great incentives from utility rates (Dominion Power), reclaim water, time to market, workforce, etc.  
- Maintaining the Sales Tax Incentive is crucial as other states are directly competing in that front.
- Average wage growth for the data center sector is very healthy and surpasses other industry sectors. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for Non-Mission Critical Applications: Airflow Through Aesthetic Architectural Building Elements

In the mission critical world, we are quite accustomed to using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to analyze airflow and thermal boundaries.  Health care is another field where CFD modeling is used (particularly isolation room airflow). The fact is that  CFD is a versatile tool that can be used in a multitude of applications involving airflow analysis. 

We recently completed a CFD study for a Garage Structure in which we analyzed the airflow through a new exterior metal screen mesh installed on an existing building fa├žade.  In our case, we modeled our building using Coolsim, a leading CFD software for mission critical applications. 

GOAL: We wanted to determine if the new metal mesh, with a 41% free area, will provide a level of natural ventilation airflow equal to or greater than a standard exterior garage wall constructed at the code minimum requirement of 20% free area. The CFD route was selected as it provided a robust solution to an otherwise complicated geometrical multi-dimensional problem. 

The space and wind conditions created a challenge, but the folks at Coolsim worked closely with us to adapt the model to our needs.  The software is primarily implemented for the calculation of cooling airflow within enclosed structures, but the system includes, as its analytical engine, a program that allows for a detailed examination of airflow around various physical elements.

By establishing an isolated free-body representation of a section of the parking garage, the effect of wind against a typical exterior structural bay were analyzed with various types of exterior construction elements. For our study, our research showed that a wind velocity of 5 mph was appropriate for the geographic location. 

The metal mesh screen is made of a solid sheet of steel that is “punched” to form diamond shaped openings with a uniform direction of sight. The effect is similar to an angled honeycomb shape.

A. 100% Open Garage Wall 

The first step was to model the structure with 100% open wall area. This is depicted in the first CFD image at the top of the blog and the cross section CFD for one floor and two bays is shown below. High velocity depicted in Red is expected as this is 100% free open area. The 5 MPH wind produced an average of 67,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air volume.

Figure.  100% Open Garage Wall Cross Section at One Floor - Air Velocity at Two Typical 30' Bays. (Typical for the other two runs)

B.  20% Open Garage Wall

The second step was to model the structure with 20% open wall area, which is the minimum allowed by code for proper ventilation. The CFD depicts the velocity results through lighter colors of the scale as expected. The larger the obstruction, the slower the air movement.  The 5 MPH wind produced an average of 52,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air volume. 

C.  41% opening with Mesh Screen

The final step was to run the model with the mesh screen. As expected, airflow velocities and airflow rates rise as the wall mesh allows more air in.  The 5 MPH wind  produces an average of 58,500 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air volume, which exceeds the 20% requirement.  

In conclusion, the beauty of the Coolsim CFD model is that it provided proof-both visually and numerically that the airflow through the mesh exceeds minimum code requirements. As a result, (and hence the other benefit that I want to emphasize) is that that it saved the client the additional cost of installing mechanical ventilation fans throughout the garage structure. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Where are LEED Data Centers Located?

LEED certified Data centers are not a new phenomenon. Starting around the mid-2000's, owners started applying for LEED certifications pooled with other types of buildings under the "New Construction" category of LEED. The interest in applications increased dramatically after 2007 as energy conservation and sustainability awareness caught up to data centers.  

An industry effort began in 2010 and successfully led in 2014 to establishing a "Data Center" sub-category under LEED v4.  

So we're now in 2015 and I wanted to see how far reaching is the industry's enthusiasm in certifying their data centers for LEED Platinum, Gold, Silver or plain "Certified".  

I went to the source at the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and-not to my surprise- I was able to download a list of non-classified projects that are certified, as well in those in the review process queued up for the award notification (a systemic and lengthy process involving many disciplines and consultants). Using this available USGBC data as well as cross-checking many references from websites ( be as inclusive as possible), I was able to globally map out the locations- as well as the Award Certification Level. This is an interactive map with metadata information available for each project that is represented by a dot. 

Some observations that stand out: (1) The US overwhelmingly leads the LEED in the number of buildings certified. This is understandable as it is the country of origin for the LEED rating system where it is widely respected and implemented (and sometimes enforced!). Being a major hub for internet traffic and e-commerce also helps as rich corporations can afford the additional costs of LEED projects, but ultimately can also absorb the longer paybacks while justifying (and heavily marketing) their sustainability commitment to the public. 
(2)  It is encouraging to see China and Europe following suit to the US as data centers become a vital part of their economies.  
(3)  Latin America, Russia, Asia are at their infancy levels while there is a complete absence from Africa. 

As I mentioned, this list is not inclusive of every project awaiting certification and I hope there are more from those regions.  I appreciate comments by readers on projects that are on the "drawing board". However, it is also worth noting that many owners also design their facilities up to LEED standards without certifying them. As such, those projects are not considered certified no matter what language is used in marketing them.  

In conclusion, LEED certified data centers are widely accepted, they are here to stay, and they are on the rise.  Contact me if you have any questions on the LEED certification process for your data center. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year! Looking Forward to 2014!

What a great year it has been since I kicked off this Blog on January 14, 2013. I am formost very thankful to my reader audience for adding ideas, opinions, and discussions.  I'm sharing some statistics on geographical Pageviews and most read posts.

Interesting to note that Russian readers came second after US readers.  It seems that the data center industry is growing at a healthy pace in Russia. I have been to Moscow several times consulting on a data center project and I loved it! Maybe 2014 will renew the chance to do more consulting work in Russia.

The second stat I included is the blog post hits. It seemed that many folks found the "Honey I Pressurized..." CFD blogpost to be very beneficial. The "Hurt Factor" post is actually MY favorite one as I really enjoyed putting it together.

So, Adieu 2013, it's been a wonderful ride! Very thankful to the readers who emailed indicating that they have found the material on this blog to be of great added value to their daily work. 

I have some great ideas for next year and as well as redesigning the blog website theme and layout.

Happy New Year to all!! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Micro Data Centers: It's a Small World After All !

When we think of Data Centers, we usually visualize large sexy facilities with row upon row of servers neatly arranged in aisles, often glowing under blue and green Hollywood style lighting! 

That's not what I'm going to blog about today..... 

I'm going to talk about the "Micro" data center. There's a niche market - small, but out there nevertheless, that focuses on a few racks, sometimes a few servers bundled in an enclosure that's either simply secured or elaborately weather tight.  It makes sense for certain applications where the need for deploying IT servers is choked by the facility's ability to provide proper space, power or cooling.  The idea is that the enclosure is environmentally isolated, fully cooled and powered, and tightly secured. It can be assembled in a factory, tested, shipped and dropped anywhere ready for plug and play. 

They are branded as:
  • Micro Data Centers, 
  • Data Centers in a Row, 
  • Tactical Mobile Data Center 
The market for Micro Data Centers was somewhat limited to isolated clients with needs for HPC rapid deployments.  That is until 2012 when FAA and AOL announced plans to install Micro Data Centers provided by Elliptical Mobile Solutions on a large scale.  (FAA in April 2013 and AOL in July 2012). The news was well publicized but we didn't see a stampede of other companies anxiously signing similar deals. I would say much of the current interest is driven by the military with demand for tactical mobile high performance computing needs. Servers in vault-like enclosure that can be transported to remote locations and can withstand harsh weather conditions. 

But maybe I'm mistaken so your input is welcome. 

I'll say a closing remark here before adding the list of vendors.  As energy windows from ASHRAE are widened (think ambient cooling minus chillers, large UPS') and software applications for this type of install are worked out, I see a growing contender worthy of consideration. 

Who's currently out there in the world of Micro Data Centers; below is a list of several selected vendors but is by no means inclusive of this niche industry. 

1. Elliptical Mobile Solutions takes the lead in this arena. They offer indoor/outdoor solutions and have demonstrated demand for their product. 

2. Emerson Liebert SmartRow TM

3. SGI Mobirack

4. MicroTech MicroPodd

5. Black Box Climate Cabinets

8. RittalData Center Container

9. Fire & Ice

If I missed a vendor, please chime in and add your comments!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fire Protection Below Raised Floors: A Paragraph in NFPA 13 Carries a Lot of Weight


The paragraph above is extracted from NFPA-13, 2010. (highlighted in yellow).  To put things in context, this paragraph is tucked away on page 209 (Chapter 21) of the code. The code is approximately 400 pages long. It is "extracted" from NFPA 75 - 2010 Standard for the Fire Protection of Information Technology Equipment; perhaps as a convenience.

In the 2013 edition of NFPA 75, the paragraph is located in Chapter 22 as A couple of clarifications were introduced as follows:

Other than the few exceptions introduced in 2013, the requirements are clear: You must provide a fire protection system below a raised floor and you have three options to pick from.  

So whether you agree or disagree, these few paragraphs are embedded into NFPA 13 and hence the safest bet would be to assume that they are enforceable by the Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) unless proven otherwise! Designers, owners, and operators need to be aware of that. 

Hopefully combustible material is not stored below raised floors, but beyond that, I have some questions that I cannot but ask:

  • I don't see a height requirement of a raised floor specified in the code. I can understand a 3 or 4 foot raised floor, but would a 12" still require it? Who makes that judgement?
  • Cable trays are often installed below raised floor, how is sprinkler coverage affected? What/where is the guideline to design a sprinkler layout with cable trays as obstructions?
  • Are local AHJs enforcing this?  
  • How many manufacturers make sprinkler heads that are approved for such concealed spaces?
  • In a dynamic environment like a data center where you always have folks pulling cable or modifying what is already installed, is a more hazardous condition being created by introducing water piping below the floor?
  • Would signage be required on the floor indicating locations of sprinkler heads?