hosting company is fully powered by solar energy

    The environmentally friendly company AISO (Affordable Internet Service Online), located in Southern California, operates a hosting data center that is fully powered by servers and cooling, provided with electricity from 120 solar panel batteries.
    A 2,000 square foot (about 186 square meter) data center is owned by AISO, a family-owned company that has been operating for 13 years, and is built “away from civilization” in a deserted rural area. An open desert area, a sunny climate, but problems with the supply of electricity to the remote farm where he lives, prompted the owner of the company and its technical director Phil Neil the idea of ​​using free energy - solar.
    For 9 years now, since 2001,AISO data center , which provides hosting services for many of its customers, fully provides itself with electricity using an environmentally friendly source - sunlight.

    Undoubtedly, the use of such an energy source with limited volumes made us search and find many non-trivial solutions when building a data center, paying special attention to the maximum possible energy savings at all levels, as well as using the least energy-consuming solutions, but not at the expense of performance and reliability.

    The company uses the IBM BladeCenter blade server on AMD processors as the hosting platform , Cisco network equipment, as well as NetApp FAS storage systems, which are characterized by extremely high storage efficiency using thin provisioning, RAID-DP and deduplication of stored data. As a software platform used VMware ESX.

    The tough energy conditions forced AISO to use many non-trivial energy saving solutions. So, for example, the roof of the data center and the adjacent office is covered with turf and planted with grass that successfully absorbs solar heat, and instead of traditional air conditioners, water coolers are used, the water tanks of which (38 thousand liters) cool during the night. Moreover, after sunset, when the center’s power supply switches to batteries filled during the day, the data center room is cooled by cold and dry “outboard” air pumped through air filters, the temperature of which often drops to 10C at night, which allows saving on “traditional” very uneconomical air-conditioned cooling.
    Savings are made, including in the office building - all the electricity available to the company must “work”. Instead of the traditional “energy-saving” lamps, AISO uses LEDs in the office, which has reduced the power consumption of up to 11 watts for such a lamp, and also widely uses a special design that “streams” sunlight into the office with a system of mirrors and optical fibers from the outside.
    “Since we use thin clients and virtualized desktops in the office, we were able to achieve energy consumption of only 6 watts per workplace,” says Neil. “We are thinking about the possibility of installing a small wind turbine, from which we feed our office workstations, to the server rack, which blows air from the chassis at a speed of about 9 meters per second.”

    The choice of the IBM Bladecenter platform using AMD Opteron was also due to its higher energy efficiency. “We found,” says Phil Neil, “that 14 conventional rack-mount servers with 625-watt power supplies consume a total of 8750 watts of power, while the IBM Bladecenter, with 14 comparable servers in the blade construct (LS20), consumes 3990 watts "that’s just 285 watts per server. In addition, AMD Opteron processors used in these servers generate less heat."

    The total applied solutions allowed achieving energy efficiency indicators (PUE - Power Usage Effectiveness - the ratio of consumed electricity to useful) equal to an extremely high value of 1.14 (for comparison, typical values ​​in the data center industry today are between 2.0 and 3.0, that is, a conventional data center consumes electricity twice three times more than useful uses) The

    use of virtualization plays a big role in saving. The company provides its customers and resellers with "virtual dedicated servers" based on the VMware ESX platform.
    Using VMware made it possible to increase the load on server processors, on average, to 60-70%, compared to the usual 10-15 for "physical" servers. It has also improved utilization and saved energy.

    In general, for obvious reasons, the concept of “efficiency of use” is at the forefront for AISO, which is why NetApp FAS was chosen as a centralized SAN storage system , which has uniquely high storage efficiency in its class and allows the use of deduplication technology for stored data without significant loss of performance. Deduplication is a means of automatically eliminating duplicates of data stored on disks, for example, the same files \ Windows \ System32 or / usr / bin in many dozens of hosts and virtual machines, which allows, in some cases, to reduce the amount of occupied space by several times, and as a result, the number of hard drives used in the solution, that is, power supply, cooling, and further along all the steps.

    Paradoxically, this is so: with the delivery of an Internet channel to the AISO data center, there were significantly fewer problems than with laying an electric cable (where are you, Nikola Tesla;). NextPhaseWireless Internet Service Provider installed AISO equipment for high-speed redundant radio channel, with which AISO is connected to a fiber optic network.
    AISO recently paved the traditional fiber line (1Gbps), and today AISO is connected to three independent backbones of the largest US Internet providers.
    AISO uses a redundant pair of Cisco 7300VXR routers to connect to the Internet channel, while a pair of Cisco ASA 5500 and SOURCEfire 3D devices provide security, control and protection against DDoS.

    Yes, the AISO hosting solution turned out to be about 60% more expensive than building a “common hosting data center” (“shit and sticks”;) , but today the company saves about $ 3,000 per month on electricity bills, which allows it to gradually “win back” the costs made during the construction of the data center.

    The company paid off its loans in full, serves over 15,000 customers and today is growing at 20% per year.
    “This year we plan to organize a special scheme for air cooling of solar panels, which will allow us to remove about 15-20% more power from them, as well as additionally install another 40 or 50 panels to the existing 120, which will give us the necessary power reserve, and keep expanding, ”says Phil Neil.

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