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BSRIA: Hyper data centers changing market for precision cooling
By Brianna Crandall, October 2, 2015—For facilities managers interested in the future of data center cooling technology, a newly published market study from U.K.-based nonprofit BSRIA (owned by The Building Services Research and Information Association) shows that large hyper data centers are changing the market for precision cooling. The report found that over the next five to 10 years the use of traditional computer room air-conditioning (CRAC) units is expected to drop dramatically as data centers opt for a combination of free cooling, liquid cooling and chilled-water cooling.
According to the report, hyper-scale data centers such as those of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, AWS and Yahoo! are very open to deploying "new" technologies, such as modular and outdoor AHUs (air handling units) / evaporative cooling. This has driven a lot of change and enabled traditional air conditioning manufacturers like McQuay, Trane, Carrier, JCI, Daikin and others to participate in the data center cooling market.
Data centers in general are said to be evolving rapidly. The standard design that was common in the last two decades is giving way to more flexible configurations that more closely match the sophisticated needs of more discerning, better informed customers.
Lone Hansen, WMI Manager — I.T. Cable Group, BSRIA, commented, "Most of the large hyper-scale (American) data centers have a centralized team that will develop the specification with regards to IT equipment and networks, cooling and power. The specification will typically be rolled out globally and include several (often three to four) approved suppliers in each product category.
"A global footprint is an important part of the selection criteria. Most value multiple source relationships as opposed to single source relationships. Some of the products are sourced direct from the suppliers to reduce the cost while others are bought through distribution."
Figure 1 on this page illustrates some of the new potential technologies and their positioning in terms of typical application and temperature operating range.
Data center capacity is growing with the increasing number of Internet protocol (IP) connections, increasing traffic and need for storage. The precision cooling products installed in data centers are estimated at $1.9 billion covering the 10 largest markets worldwide in 2014, and these markets are expected to show healthy growth up to 2017.
According to the report, the largest market is North America, accounting for around 40 percent of the global data center cooling market. China accounts for just under a third, and the U.K. eight percent. Other countries include Russia, Germany, France, Australia and Brazil, of which Germany is by far the largest, accounting alone for six percent of the global market.
The $1.9 billion does not include precision cooling products installed in non-IT (information technology) sectors such as healthcare and laboratories, manufacturing, industrial, semi-conductors, education (close control applications in universities and school laboratories). Although smaller than the data center market, this market is nevertheless substantial, and its dimensions are also estimated in the study.