Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
March, 5th 2009

The following guest blog is from Peter Van Deventer, CEO SynapSense Corporation

Core to the current administration’s stimulus package are appropriations to enable energy efficiency in buildings and what is widely known as the “smart grid.” As this need for a smarter infrastructure grows, that need carries over into the data center.  For most enterprises, the data center consumes up to one-third of the operation’s total power consumption, and on a national scale represents up to 2 percent of United States power consumption.  The criticality of power in the data center is not just consumption, but also functional limits on capacity and optimally efficient usage to defer the need for expensive infrastructure build out of new data center space. 

Synapsense LiveImaging

SynapSense is a venture-backed startup that has developed a wireless infrastructure that serves as the nerve center for energy efficient data center operations.  By instrumenting the data center with hundreds or even thousands of wireless sensors and a robust application environment, data center managers are now provided with a  high level of business intelligence that dramatically improves operational visibility and energy efficiency.  Instantly after installation, business intelligence is available regarding sub-floor pressure, air mixing, stratification, CRAC/CRAH efficiency, the capability to monitor the temperature rise across the IT equipment racks and the room cooling equipment, and so on, to the point that we now provide upwards of 50 “intelligent” metrics and hundreds of screens that are critical tools for leading data center operators.  The average data center is masking inefficiencies by being overcooled twice as much as it needs to be.  Using our intelligent sensors and networks, our application provides the intelligence to reduce energy spending on cooling infrastructure by up to 30 percent, while at the same time providing a comprehensive tool to make safe, continuous improvements to the floor.  

The SynapSense Wireless Green Data Center solution featuring LiveImaging™ technology is on display in many of IBM’s global data centers and demonstration centers (note the embedded image).  The implementation of the technology into IBM's own Green Data Center in Montpellier, France illustrates the ease of implementation and non-intrusiveness of the wireless probes and sensors that have allowed IBM to design an overall energy efficient solution. The result, according to Dr. Jean-Michel Rodriguez, IBM’s Worldwide Lead Architect for Green & Energy Efficiency, has been significant interest from many of IBM's customers to implement the solution for themselves.

Other enterprises are improving their data center operations as well using SynapSense solutions.  In a technology demonstration project with Yahoo, SynapSense executed a proof of concept showing the integration of wireless instrumentation with not only environmental and energy management, but real-time adaptive cooling of the HVAC infrastructure.  In one data center alone, this will produce an expected annual savings of about 4,560,000 kWh, improve Yahoo’s PUE to 1.44 and DCiE to 71 percent; and abate about 1,400 metric tons of annual carbon dioxide.  Similarly, a recent SynapSense installation at the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (pdf) allowed an immediate iterative process to improve thermal management and sub-floor pressure alignment.  As Greg Bell, acting Chief Technology Architect put it after installing their SynapSense system, “For the first time, we have a detailed understanding of environmental conditions in the data center.”

What does the future hold for the data center smart grid?  SynapSense is currently providing low-cost energy intelligence and real-time PUE/DCiE for data center operators, and this will continue to integrate with existing building management systems and other hard-wired data sources.  The old analogy holds true – you cannot manage what you do not measure.  We are working with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Berkeley National Lab, and we are leading the LEEDS efforts to develop and implement real-time metrics and standards that will enable dramatically more efficient data center operations.  Real-time data center monitoring & optimization is quickly becoming the "next data center best practice."  Over time, you will see the comprehensive deployment of real-time instrumentation systems that enable optimization of data center operations, real-time PUE/DCiE, and adaptive cooling infrastructures, resulting in truly energy efficient data centers on a national and global scale.


Pete Van Deventer, CEO SynapSense  Peter Van Deventer is the president and CEO of SynapSense Corporation.
  He can be reached directly at

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We have long-term problems and we are seeking long-term solutions.
This includes the need for smarter data centers for they absorb considerable resources to build and operate.
We have some serious short-term problems and they are being obscured by the focus on long-term problems and their solutions. The short-term problems need both urgent focus and urgent solutions.
We need a common sense perspective on the long-term and the short-term.
Common sense indicates we should not misallocate precious resources on long-term problems to the detriment of urgent short-term problems. This is not to say we ignore the long-term problems.
We are the stewards of all the precious resources we are provided including air, natural resources, human resources and a safe-for-life planet.
The short-term data center problems I suggest we consider urgently focusing upon are two-fold:
One, we face the risk of a severe solar storm that is projected to peak in year 2012.
We do not need another bungled Y2K effort until a strong and capable hand finally oversaw a successful transition in the last 18 months before Dec. 31, 1999.
We need to examine the possible ramifications of a severe solar storm, for we have had past examples of what can happen.
The Great Solar Storm of 1859 is an example where the HEMP E3 effect was evident as nascent telegraph offices exploded in flames from the power surges building up on the long lines.
In 2003 there was also damage to the power grid from a solar storm. This is discussed at:
To be continued….
Two, and related to a severe solar storm, the risk of a High-altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) attack grows stronger every day as rogue states and terror groups rapidly acquire the necessary component technologies.
For the past 60 years or so we have transitioned from a highly robust to HEMP vacuum tube technology to very vulnerable to HEMP solid-state technology.
While providing great benefits, the transition has ignored the risks of EMP/IEMI severely damaging or destroying our entire power grid, data centers and all electrical and electronic devices not protected against this threat and the severe solar storm risk.
We certainly need a smart grid and smart data centers. However, more importantly we need protected and fully reliable power grids and data centers.
Without a protected and reliable power grid, protected data centers and protected electrical/electronic devices we face chaos and potentially great loss of life.
This is documented by the EMP Commission testimony and unclassified reports at:
We can protect against these risks and threats; however, we need to first acknowledge the risks and threats and then begin to address them.
To be continued…

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