Greening the Internet and Verari Systems’ “Data Center in a Box”

Making improvements in energy efficiency may not seem like the cutting edge of innovation, but the combined effects of the recession and rising energy costs have many big companies scrambling for novel ways to get on top of energy demands.

At the same time, efforts to reduce the load on California’s increasingly constrained power grid have led the state’s biggest utilities to create significant incentive programs for customers that cut their energy use. For many companies with data-intensive operations, that means installing more energy-efficient computer centers—and cutting the related cost of air handling equipment needed to cool the racks of servers and storage devices.

Enter San Diego’s Verari Systems, a venture-backed company that provides blade-based servers and data storage technology, which has aggressively shifted its focus in recent months to emphasize its “green data centers.” Among Verari’s newest concepts is the development of a “data center in a box” that maximizes energy efficiency by consolidating its computing racks into a self-contained system about the size of a long cargo container.

To learn more about this energy efficiency strategy, I sat down recently with David Driggers, Verari’s co-founder and chief technology officer, and Dan Gatti, the senior vice president for worldwide market operations. To a certain extent, they explained, Verari was already positioned for the blooming market in green IT equipment by virtue of its patented vertical cooling technology. Verari designed its blade servers and data storage devices with a hollow core, so cool air blows through each device like wind through a tunnel. The company also designed its racks with fans at the bottom, so cool air is blown upward through the rack. The company says conventional server racks typically use front-to-back cooling, which is less energy efficient.

Driggers notes that the idea initially was to maximize both the computing density and the energy efficiency of Verari’s server and storage racks, so as to lower the overall cost of ownership. “Vertical cooling is the patented technology that has driven our success,” Driggers says. Indeed, even before its shift to “green,” Verari had attracted an impressive list … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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