HP is one of the best manufacturers when it comes to openly providing detailed technical information on its IT equipment and the EcoPOD is no exception.
Here is a snapshot from the interactive view of the EcoPOD:
As can be seen from this cross-sectional view and temperature scale, the outside air is brought by a set of fans into the top of the cold aisles and is extracted from the center hot aisle by another set of fans. If the temperature exceeds the 87�F then the DX cooling units are brought online to maintain temperature and humidity. In order to save maximum amount of energy, the EcoPOD also has a very broad humidity range: 20 percent - 80 percent RH. HP claims that even in full DX cooling mode the PUE is only 1.3.
Some in the industry may dismiss this and say this is not a data center and that it is a just a very hot metal box holding racks. But a closer examination is warranted. While 58�F - 87�F and 20 percent - 80 percent RH is beyond ASHRAE TC 9.9's "recommended" class-1 envelope (64.4�F-80.6�F), it is within the "allowable" envelope (59�F - 95�F). If you are not already aware, the Third Edition of TC 9.9 guidelines will be released shortly and it is oriented toward a much wider operating envelope and focused on promoting energy efficiency via the expanded use of air-side economizers and data centers with little or no mechanical cooling. Not everyone will choose to operate their EcoPOD that way and HP's eco-control system can also be set to operate within the ASHRAE 'recommended' envelope or even the traditional 68-72�F 'meat locker' mode, but, of course, at the expense of energy efficiency.
The Bottom Line
So is this a developing trend in the industry or just a niche market? EcoPOD may just be one more offering reflecting the new data center paradigm shift, oriented toward rapid delivery of standardized computing building blocks. It also may help legitimize and accelerate the broader acceptance of a wider environmental operating envelope and the use of more 'free cooling' by utilizing outside air to save energy. So if you are not going to migrate your enterprise directly to a cloud computing service provider, or even perhaps if you are considering becoming a cloud service provider overnight, the HP EcoPOD or other types of modular pre-fabricated data center building blocks may just fit into your computing plans.
On the other hand, conventional but mega-sized data centers, offering colo, managed services and hosting operations using more moderate densities and traditional environmental conditions are still being built at an unbelievable rate.