For over 3000 years, Feng Shui has been bringing balance and harmony to physical space. In China, millions of people live their lives according to the natural forces and principles of Feng Shui. Its influence is as apparent in the most ancient of our buildings as it is in many of the new structures which are springing up as a result of China’s growing economy. And, of-course, Feng Shui, with its blend of science, philosophy and nature has also become very popular in the wider world.
Prior to the advent of Cloud computing, inefficient infrastructure was a major concern as the greatest operational cost of the data center, was the cost of energy – perhaps accounting for up to 45% of opex. Electrical losses, inefficient infrastructure and associated with over-sizing of power and cooling equipment combined to create waste which enterprises sought to eliminate to reduce PUE and carbon emissions.
But the rise of Cloud computing has created new imperatives for the way that data centers are designed and built; in particular the ability to scale to meet the needs of evolving IT equipment and user demand in an ever advancing market. Those creating concepts for next generation data centers to provision public, private and hybrid Cloud architectures would do well to look back and draw upon the precepts of the ancient art of Feng Shui.
Three elements that are highlighted all have special relevance to data centers; wind (airflow), water (chilled water) and energy (power). Just as in data centers, equilibrium is sought in Feng Shui between the three elements to produce an optimum environment in which to operate. Taking this metaphor further, we can apply the laws of Feng Shui to the data center.
The physical space is the data center site: the ‘Feng’ which requires a peaceful balance between the energy (Chi) which courses throughout and the cooling system, represented by the water (Shui). The transfer of energy through the space creates heat which the water cools, a cycle which contains the essential elements of Feng Shui.
Since the launch of next generation data center concepts in 2007, there has been year-on-year advancements in planning and design. Today’s data centers must support the dynamic environment of the IT equipment, but also be in harmony with the external environment. By creating a closer relationship between the data center and its local environment and climate, we can get more benefit from, e.g., free or fresh air cooling or renewable energy sources.
Data center construction brings many challenges to customers who require a comprehensive skills planner who understands not only the architecture of the building but also IT, power and environment. In China, Schneider Electric acts more like a translator combining the essential elements of infrastructure, servers and applications in order to achieve harmony in the data center.