Why data centres can be massive, but not gigantic

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17 October 2014 | 0

The IT industry has long abused words, and will label almost any new product as innovative and disruptive. Data centre developers, especially those who write the headlines about data centres, are particularly bad.

The very big data centres built by cloud providers or the NSA will be called humongous, gigantic, super-sized, colossal, mammoth and immense, among other monikers.

There is no agreement on what constitutes a gigantic versus a very large data centre, but a data centre user group, Afcom, published a paper that tries to do just that.

Afcom is offering definitions around commonly used terms to describe data centres that cover size and density metrics. The goal is to help everyone understand what a data centre means when it says “average measured peak kW load,” or what “extreme” density means, which is north of 16kW.

The paper, which Afcom is seeking comments on, also legitimises the word “mega” to describe a data centre. To qualify, it must be more than 225,001 square feet and have more than 9,001 racks. Next on the list is “massive,” which would be a data centre with more than 75,001 square feet. (“Gigantic” didn’t make the cut, by the way.)

Tom Roberts, Afcom president and a former senior technical architect for data centres at Trinity Health, said he hopes the paper brings some uniformity to the industry, especially internationally.

For instance, said Roberts, in some parts of the world a 50,000-square-foot data centre might be described as “mega,” but not in the US.

“The whole goal around this is to put some guidelines about what those definitions really mean,” said Roberts.

In China, a cloud data centre data complex in Ningxia that’s expected to include Amazon’s new AWS operation there, is described as a “super data centre,” by the entity building it The actual size isn’t detailed.

“Super” didn’t make Afcom’s list, either.



Patrick Thibodeau, IDG News Service

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