Musings on personal and enterprise technology (of potential interest to professional technoids and others)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Google Patent for Data Center Cooling Innovations - Data Center Knowledge

A diagram of an 'air wand' indicating the location of cooling vents in wand, a key feature of a patent application by Google data center engineers:

It's nice to see that Google is dedicating not only significant engineering but also legal resources, towards patenting innovative data center cooling techniques. Hopefully, this will lead to an affordable, reusable solution that can help organizations similarly optimize their cooling. As has been documented, cooling typically contributes to up to 50% of a data center's total energy costs (e.g. see for example The Greening of IT: How Companies Can Make a Difference for the Environment by John Lamb, p. 136), so of course cooling innovations can be quite significant towards reducing both carbon footprint and operating costs..

"Google Patent Reveals Data Center Innovations
November 30th, 2009 : Rich Miller

Google has revealed some of the secret technology inside its mighty data centers, but its engineers are busy cooking up new secrets.

An example: Google is seeking to patent an advanced data center cooling system that provides precision cooling inside racks of servers, automatically adjusting to temperature changes while dramatically reducing the energy required to run chillers.

The cooling design, which could help Google slash the power bill for its servers, reinforces Google’s focus on its data centers as a competitive advantage in its battle with Microsoft and other rivals for leadership in cloud computing. The company has customized much of the operation of its data centers, which serve as the engines powering its massive Internet business. Google builds its own servers and networking switches, and now appears to be customizing the racks that hold them.

Precision Cooling via ‘Air Wands’

The innovative rack cooling design features an adjustable piping system, including “air wands” that provide small amounts of cold air to components within a server tray. The chilled air enters the top of a rack through two vertical standpipes, which branch off into air wands – long, thin pipes lined with vents that release cold air.

The air wands can pivot to target cold air on specific components, or be swung to one side to allow equipment to be removed from the rack. Dampers on each standpipe can open and close to regulate the volume of air flowing into the pipe and air wands, while the vents on each individual air wand can be adjusted to point up or down, allowing for a highly configurable system..."

Full Article from
Data Center Knowledge:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Well-done quality improvement is not punitive; it’s educational: Dr. Brent James, NYTimes 8Nov2009

Seems doctors may have some meaningful insights to share with IT executives and project managers, regarding effective management of a quality improvement initiative. A fascinating NYTimes article by David Leonhardt explains how Dr. Brent James is standardizing certain healthcare procedures, thereby significantly improving certain types of patient outcomes. Even straightforward checklists seem to help a lot. Leonhardt also provides the successful example of

"...the Pronovost checklist. As many as 28,000 people in this country die each year from infections that come from intravenous lines. Several years ago, Peter Pronovost, a Johns Hopkins physician, developed a simple list of five steps that intensive-care doctors should take before inserting an IV line, in order to prevent the introduction of bacteria. The checklist reduced the infection rate to essentially zero at 108 hospitals in Michigan where it was adopted. Pronovost published the results in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006. But most intensive-care doctors are still not using the checklist. To insert an IV line, they continue to rely on their own judgment."

Also helpful and relevant for IT in my experience, is the statement by Dr. James that

"quality improvement is a process, not an event. In part it works by finding variation and drawing attention to it... And well-done quality improvement is not punitive; it’s educational."

Full article:
If Health Care Is Going to Change, Dr. Brent James's Ideas Will Change It -