Rittal IT-infrastructure at Microsoft: Meeting extreme demands in Redmond

The world's leading software developer Microsoft has set up a special data centre at its corporate headquarters in Redmond to allow customers to test new software before it is used for real. In the Enterprise Engineering Center, over 700 servers are used to simulate the IT environments of enterprise software customers, removing the risk of surprises when it comes to actual implementation of next generation products. Following expansion of the test laboratory in 2009, Microsoft can now depict the impacts of migration on energy consumption at an even finer resolution. Microsoft opted for IT infrastructure from system suppliers Rittal for this project.

The EEC Validation Center comprises over 700 servers, storage capacity in excess of three petabytes, and a central switching fabric of over twenty terabytes. Microsoft customers use this facility to simulate their own production environments, and test the early versions of new software in practice. The testing facilities were enhanced in 2009 when the Microsoft lab was expanded. At the heart of the installation are a total of 38 TS 8 server racks and 15 rack-based LCP Plus (Liquid Cooling Package) high-density cooling systems from Rittal.

Rittal TS 8 enclosures and Liquid Cooling Packages are ideal for modern high-density data centres, in which ever greater loads and thus mounting heat are generated in the server racks by blade servers. The modular TS 8 system is designed for a weight of up to 1,600 kg. Unlike CRAC systems, which supply entire data centre rooms with cold air, the LCPs are installed directly alongside the racks and provide targeted delivery of cold air in front of the servers. In this way, the Rittal system is able to dissipate very high heat loads and reduce energy consumption for climate control by up to 40 per cent.

"Rittal's LCP Plus cooling system meets two key criteria for the EEC," explains Michael Dillon of Microsoft EEC. "First, the cooling is integrated into an enclosed environment. That gives us the ability to monitor it in a much more targeted way and to develop even more energy-efficient solutions for the future. Secondly, this solution is more portable and flexible than the traditional centrally cooled data centre. At the same time", Dillon adds,"the improved energy efficiency is a blessing for my budget."