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6SigmaRoom The Virtual Facility

The real challenge is control

Future Facilities is pioneering the use of CFD simulation techniques throughout the life time of any Data Center.

To this end FFL is introducing the concept of
"The Virtual Facility" (VF).


The Virtual Facility is the full 3-dimensional mathematical representation of the physical / logical attributes of a data center in its past, present, or future state. In essence, it's your testing ground, allowing you to evaluate options and make the right decisions at each step in the planning process with no risk to your actual data center.

  • Overview
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Capital & Operational Costs

The virtual buffer zone

The Virtual Facility acts just like a buffer zone, bringing all aspects of data center design, optimization and management together in a flexible design area that can be tried and tested in as many ways as you like, without risk to the real facility.

Predict before you commit

The lifeline of any datacenter can be divided into two distinct phases:

1) Design, construction and commissioning, and
2) Day-to-day operational management.

Up to now simulation in the data center industry has focused on the design phase and point solutions. Coupled with the 6SigmaDC suite, the Virtual Facility enables you now to support the operational phase of the lifeline too.

Get the answers you need to be able to tackle the big issues of risk mitigation, energy efficiency, and capital & operational costs.

Wherever your starting point, the Virtual Facility will have the answers...
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Taking the heat off the datacenter operator

With the constant threat of equipment failure due to overheating, you don’t need reminding that running a mission-critical datacenter is probably the toughest job in IT. But just because your datacenter is 24/7, it doesn’t mean you have to be!

Problem is, conventionally-designed datacenters are unable to cope with the rapid growth in power densities of today’s IT equipment – even small additions of new kit can destabilise the datacenter’s fragile “ecosystem”, making the risk of thermally-induced failure greater than ever before. 

It’s hardly surprising. This isn’t just a straightforward cooling problem – there are no fewer than three variables that have to be contended with other than ambient room temperature:

     Volume of cooled air

     Velocity of cooled air

     Relative humidity

Plus every piece of kit has its own unique set of tolerances...

It’s a minefield. Which is why datacenter operators often waste a great deal of time and money over-engineering their cooling systems. You can’t blame them – after all, better safe than sorry. Yet it needn’t be that way. Not when you use the Virtual Facility (VF). Because the VF gives you the ability investigate the present status of your datacenter and predict the impact of every future change, without any risk to your actual facility.

Put simply, when you input your proposed changes into the VF, if they stay cool and have no affect on the equipment already installed, you can be confident that your facility is not at risk.

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Saving you money as you save the planet

Because the risk of failure from overheating is the biggest fear of any datacenter operator, there is a tendency to overcool the datacenter. This may be understandable given the mission-critical nature of the operation but it can be hugely wasteful. And with energy costs soaring and green issues dominating the global agenda, that’s something today’s businesses can ill afford to be.

Of course, there’s little you can do about the ever-increasing hunger for power of your IT equipment. But it’s another matter when it comes to energy consumption used for cooling. With the Virtual Facility (VF) as your guide, you can be confident of making significant reductions.

Once your VF is up and running, Future Facilities can evaluate the energy efficiency of your existing or proposed datacenter as expressed in PUE or “Building Efficiency”. For a typical datacenter, this includes assessing the following variables:

   Bullet  Airflow management

   Bullet  Floor-tile layout

   Bullet  Equipment load-distribution

   Bullet  Failure analysis

From this, you will be able to determine the extent to which your cooled air and chilled-water supply temperature set-points can be adjusted, so as to drive potential significant cost reductions.

For example,when Cisco used the VF to assesss their Silicone Valley datacenter they found that tactical blanking and floor-grille placement alone could reduce inlet temperatures by 5ºC, enabling them to raise their chilled-water set-point by 4.5 ºC, leading to a staggering 30% (or almost $200,000) saving on energy consumption per year. Plus, they gained the potential to install a further 650 units of IT kit. And the greater the ratio of kit to space available, the more efficient your datacenter.

Naturally, the earlier in the development of your datacenter the energy assessment is carried out, the more effective it will be. Indeed, some new sites, based in temperate climates, find they can dispense with artificial cooling altogether outside of the summer months. But owners of existing facilities can still be confident that will always benefit, too.

And it doesn’t end there. Once established, the VF can be used as an ongoing monitoring tool to ensure optimal energy efficiency of your datacenter throughout its entire operational life.

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Savings that just keep on going

You need no telling how important (and costly) an asset your datacenter is for your business. Paradoxically, though, while capital costs decrease with every new generation of IT equipment, the cost of protecting and maintaining that kit within the datacenter increases correspondingly.

So the need to maximise that asset has never been greater – both by exploiting every square metre of floor-space today and by ensuring those selfsame square metres are still capable of delivering the performance your business needs well into the future. Only the Virtual Facility (VF) can ensure this is the case...

For the greenfield site, the VF is a “no-brainer”. Every stakeholder from datacenter operator and site architect to equipment manufacturer can have their own view of the potential facility – ensuring that the new infrastructure is optimised to the demands to be made on it by the IT equipment it is intended to house.

For the existing datacenter, the equation may be more complex but it is almost no less beneficial – because the VF is the only practical way to “sweat your asset”. Put simply, the more effective your cooling, the more the IT kit you can pack into your datacenter, and the more economical it becomes to run per unit of processing power. By the same token, the VF can see to it that you need to buy and maintain far less cooling equipment for the same amount of IT hardware.

Either way, the VF sees to it that you ensure the maximum longevity of your datacenter.

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