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Yahoo’s data centre chief draws lessons from century-old tech

Date: 27th October 2010

When he was in Buffalo, looking for a data centre site, Scott Noteboom, vice president of global production operations, at Yahoo, said the first thing he wanted to see were old factory buildings. He wanted to learn how the factories used the cool air coming off the Great Lakes in an era before refrigeration.

That is how Noteboom thinks. He looks at what he is doing — designing and operating data centres for one of the world’s largest Internet-based companies — through the perspective of history. And from this love of history, he has realized something about the future of data centres. Noteboom showed a photo of an aluminium smelting plant, with two rows of buildings and a chimney and furnace between them. The designers “had to manage temperature in that building without using any cooling,” said Noteboom, “and they were using a dense heat source in the middle creating a chimney effect” to evacuate the heat. Full article can be found here.

Keysource: This highlights the potential of using proven technology in a solution designed to precisely fit the needs of the data centre. There is a lot of coverage in the media regarding new data centres that make the most of unique locations, weather conditions or very specific circumstances. Whilst these solutions demonstrate high levels of innovation, they are not always of huge value to the wider data centre industry because they cannot be used as a universal design template.

There is definite value to be gained from seeing where HVAC solutions have worked elsewhere in industry and drawing on this best practice to develop data centre cooling solutions that make the most of free cooling opportunities.

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