Case Study: Building a High Density, High Efficiency Data Center Facility

September 30th, 2011 | Posted by admin in BAIS | News

By 2005, Bay Area Internet Solutions (BAIS) had become an established player in Silicon Valley’s competitive co-location industry. Supported by a single, 24,000-square-foot internet datacenter (IDC), the company served hundreds of customers from small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. By late 2007 BAIS had reached its maximum capacity.

To accommodate the growing need for co-location space, BAIS purchased an 83,000 sqft facility, which it designed and redeveloped into a Tier IV datacenter facility. To meet customers’ need for high-availability services, a robust power infrastructure with N+1 redundancy to consistently deliver “five nines” (99.999 percent) of availability was needed. In addition 100 percent uptime for power and cooling was required. It would also need to be modular in design in order to support future growth and technology upgrades without impacting uptime.

Customer demand also dictated the need to accommodate as many as forty servers in a single rack – translating to power densities upwards of 300 watts per square foot. Understanding the significant impact heat can have on a facility’s reliability, BAIS was faced with the challenge of finding a next-generation cooling solution that would reliably and efficiently maintain optimal operating conditions for its customers’ sensitive equipment.

The BAIS design team recognized that the deployment of high availability, mission-critical IT equipment often translates to marked increases in power and cooing costs.

After researching a number of power distribution units to support the new datacenter, the design team determined that the installation of 300 kVA Liebert PDUs with standard TP-1 transformers that provide up to 98.7 percent efficiency would provide the highest levels of efficiency and reliability. Backup power uses 800 kVA EPS-8000 UPS systems from MGE and 5×2 Megawatts Cummins generators.

During the design phase, BAIS carefully considered both hot aisle and cold aisle containment strategies. In addition BAIS needed to provide rack enclosures capable of handling up to forty high-density servers without sacrificing scalability down the road. After careful research and analysis, the design determined that Cold Aisle containment systems with an airtight Plexiglas corridor would be the optimal energy saving solution, which also would boost overall cooling efficiency while simultaneously achieving rack densities upwards of 10 kW. The team also decided on 47U racks to accommodate the large deployment requirements.

Essentially a “box within a box,” the 30-inch raised floor datacenter is surrounded by a sealed air plenum corridor, which functions as an HVAC duct between the facility’s economizers and the datacenter’s CRAC units. A fan wall comprised of more than 200 fans along the building’s exterior takes in 200,000 CFM of cool air from the outside, which is filtered as it enters the corridor. Air from the corridor is used to supplement the air taken in by the CRAC units along the datacenter’s perimeter walls, allowing chillers to throttle to achieve maximum efficiency.

After the air is filtered a second time by the CRAC units, cool air is delivered under the datacenter’s 30-inch raised floor and directly into the cold aisles. The CRAC units are equipped with Variable Speed EC Plug Fans which allow the units to adapt their capacity to the IT load in the room, reducing energy consumption 10-30%. After passing into the cold aisle containment system and through the server racks, hot air is exhausted outside the containment system. Ceiling exhaust fans push the hottest air out.
For additional efficiency BAIS implemented a centralized water based chiller plant, including 2800 tons chillers and oversized water towers, all equipped with VFD.

To maintain “clean room” air quality standards, BAIS supplemented its redundant filtration system with an integrated building management system capable of shutting down the economizer if it detects tolerances out of the norm, such as smoke.

BAIS’s innovative cooling design comprised of the air economizer system, cold aisle containment and EC plug fan technology resulted in an annual savings of over four million kWh energy savings. The energy savings were not the only financial benefits BAIS experienced from the efficient design — the datacenter’s cooling efficiencies qualified BAIS for several efficiency grants from Silicon Valley Power, earning them the maximum grant allocation available in a given year.
In addition BAIS won the Silicon Valley Power Energy Innovator Award for 2009.

About BAIS:
Founded in 1995, Bay Area Internet Solutions (BAIS, Inc.) is one of Silicon Valley’s leading facility-based providers of co-location, high-speed internet access and managed hosting solutions for small, medium and large enterprises worldwide. The company specializes in providing high-availability, scalable and reliable managed IT service solutions tailored to meet each customer’s specific applications and requirements. For more information please visit

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6 Responses

  • Nic LeCheminant says:

    This article just shows the importance of good air flow of the cold air. It shows that this was a main focus of BAIS and it’s paid off for them, not only with lots of customers but they ended up saving in energy costs as well as earning grants.

  • This article proves that doing research before hand pays off in the end. Having a fully adaptive cooling system that can change instantly to its environment is key in reducing operating costs of a data center.

  • Richard Losee says:

    The amount of energy they were able to save by improving cooling efficiency is amazing. The small improvements paid off big for the BAIS data center.

  • Alysha says:

    Cooling is one of the most important parts of a data center – and costs so much. Finding these kind of improvements is essential. It’s exciting to see this new development.

  • Namtr0 says:

    Just goes to show how much effort goes into what we take for granted these days. Hard work always pays off, here’s to the pioneers of the modern day Data center.

  • todd says:

    I’d like to see more companies go the way of the liquid cooled machines. Those things blow my mind. Unfortunately, for a data center that provides service to a whole host of customers, such a thing wouldn’t be so much of a viable option.

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