Maxnet pioneers hot aisle technology in NZ

Project expected to be completed in three years time, at a total cost of $15 million

Rising demand for high-density server hosting has led Auckland’s Maxnet datacentre to begin building what it says is the country’s first commercially available hosting facilities using hot aisle technology.

Maxnet chief executive Brett Herkt says the first high-density pod will be up and running in a month’s time, while the first stage of the project using the technology, which is supplied by Dell and APC, is expected to be completed by mid-November.

Stage one consists of a $1.5 million upgrade, including dual two-megawatt power supplies, as well as a 0.5 megawatt upgrade of existing power and cooling capacity. Subsequent stages will bring power and cooling capacity up to four megawatts, with up to 30kw of cooling per rack, and expand Maxnet’s server room area from 420 square metres to 660 square metres. The number of racks will increase from 120 to 300–400 racks.

Timing of the project is dependent on customer demand but it is expected to be completed in three years time, at a total cost of $15 million.

Herkt says he started to look at high-density hosting technology to meet emerging demand for increased cooling capacity.

“A lot of our customers were saying they needed four to six to kilowatts of cooling per rack, but they would eventually need 12 to 15 kilowatts, with some saying maybe 20 or 30 kilowatts.”

Maxnet chose Dell and APC as suppliers because of their association with hot-aisle technology, says Herkt.

“We already had a relationship with Dell, and Dell has a partnership with APC, which holds a patent on hot-aisle.”

Hot-aisle containment systems are said to increase efficiency by returning the warmest possible air to air conditioners by separating supply and return air-paths to server rooms. The “hot aisle” is sealed off by using doors and ceiling tiles.

Although there are already one or two private datacentres using the technology in New Zealand, Herkt says Maxnet will be the first in the country to offer hot-aisle facilities on a commercial basis.

According to Herkt, installation is proceeding smoothly thanks partly to the software provided by APC, which assisted in the design of the upgrade.

“APC provided some very powerful tools which allowed us to model the whole installation in some detail.”

APC also arranged for Maxnet to visit a functioning hot-aisle facility in Canberra, Australia, before the project began.

Herkt says demand for high-density hosting is being driven by virtualisation. “Just about all corporate CIOs are either engaged in or contemplating virtualisation, and the gruntier kit used consumes more power.”

The new facilities will also help Maxnet meet the needs of new customers. Herkt says the company has recently signed contracts with a large Australian consumer goods manufacturer and a local system integrator that had run out of datacentre capacity.

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