SAKURA Internet constructed a large-scale data center in the suburbs of Ishikari City, Hokkaido, which will be optimized for Cloud computing in November 2011.

The paradigm shift to Cloud computing, i.e., the move toward elastic computing, is progressing rapidly through the use of virtualized and distributed technologies. This shift is due to a rise in User consciousness and concomitant market demands. Consequently, a modern type of hosting service is expected by consumers. In short, our business needs to change from one of possession to one of use. Many overseas data centers are already beginning to evolve an infrastructure for supporting Cloud computing. Meanwhile, the technological stagnation of data centers in Japan has led to the domestic IT industry in Japan, in the face of vigorous overseas competition, to fall behind.

Although advanced large-scale data centers are being built one after another overseas, they are not being built in Japan. The primary difference between the two contexts stems from who the subject is that builds and owns a data center. In the case of overseas companies, the enterprises using a data center (such as Google and Amazon) are, themselves, building data centers optimized for the needs of their companies. On the other hand, Japanese enterprises that have constructed data centers have produced general-purpose data centers which lease their service to a large number of customers. In that case, a communication enterprise and a system integrator become a subject of construction, and there is no instance where the user itself has built a large-scale data center for its company. As the result, a Japanese data center becomes a utility of mediocrity designed to suit the greatest common denominator by providing a service to fit all needs. Furthermore, the majority of these data centers have been built in a big city, or its suburbs, and resulted in low efficiency at high cost when compared with overseas data centers.

We knew that a big business opportunity had arrived. For that reason, we clearly believed that a paradigm shift needed to occur in Japan in order to bring optimized Cloud computing to this country also. At this time there are still no data centers optimized for Cloud computing in the Japanese market. The decision we made was to build in Ishikari city, Hokkaido, the greatest suburban-type data center in Japan that would be optimized for single company service. One reason we chose Ishikari city is because it is in a cold district and can thus utilize outdoor cold air in order to cool the data center. We knew we could realize this large project because of our original know-how in data center operation and the hosting business, which has been accumulated over the course of many years.

Features of our new Data Center

Reducing Japanese IT cost on a level with international competition

It is assumed that the cost of this Ishikari model will be below half of that of a customary type data center built in the center of Tokyo. Compared with a center-of-Tokyo type data center, its power consumption will be reduced by a remarkable 60%. Even when using the general AC electricity supply, the structure of the building has been designed to utilize the cold outdoor air cooling of the district in which it was built. In addition to that, by adopting a High-Voltage Direct-Current (HVDC) electric supply system a further 10% power saving will be achieved, which will reduce total power consumption to around 60% of that of previous urban data center types.

By depressing the Japanese IT infrastructure cost immediately in relation to global standards we aim to establish pre-eminence amongst the international competition in the Cloud.

Reduction effects for power consumption

Realizing a highly flexible data center and bringing an economy of scale to Japanese IT

Taking advantage of a vast 122,891 square foot site, we have realized a highly flexible data center and brought an economy of scale to Japanese IT.

With the local government's support, this data center will use a preferentially dedicated electric power supply. It will also be able to use its non-preferential power supply more efficiently, thus increasing the employee maintenance staff's productivity sharply. Moreover, the building will be expanded in step-wise installments. It will not be necessary to set out from the beginning to construct a large-scale building. Consequently, we will be able to add the newest equipment and latest technology in successive stages in the future.

Our final goal is to build and operate a data center on a scale in which 600,000 or more sets of servers will be running (an original server which our company produces is able to carry up to 160 sets in one rack)

Final overall view( 4000 racks within eight buildings)

Final overall view( 4000 racks within eight buildings)

The ideal climate of Hokkaido provides a Free cooling mechanism!

Since this data center will be able to utilize the cool climate of Hokkaido, it will be possible to provide free cooling to each server room throughout almost every season. In alignment with the four seasons of Hokkaido, this free cooling system will mix the low-temperature outside air with the hot exhaust from a server to supply a breeze at an optimum ratio of temperature to humidity to the server rooms. By introducing this free cooling system, we will obtain a drastic reduction in the use of electrical power ordinarily needed for air-conditioning a data center.

The ideal climate of Hokkaido provides a Free cooling mechanism!

Adoption of HVDC (High-Voltage Direct-Current) electric supply system

The HVDC 12V system provides an economical electric supply system which is vastly superior in respect to other systems in terms of cost. First, this system experiences very little power loss inside of IT instruments and it is unparalleled in efficiency when compared with the electrical supply system of a conventional AC system. Second, the composition of equipment becomes simpler because the expensive UPS (uninterruptible power supply) becomes unnecessary, and that power supply unit inside a server can be omitted.

With a traditional AC electric power supply system it is necessary, in order to stabilize AC power, that a UPS be installed in power receiving facilities. However, since the battery inside a UPS is run by a DC system, it is incumbent that it be changed into DC from AC at the time of charge. Moreover, conversion is required for AC from DC at the time of discharge and two AC/DC conversions in all are carried out as a result. In addition, the power supply unit inside a server transforms into DC electric power the AC electric power supplied from UPS. Therefore, on the whole, three AC/DC conversions are carried out in total. Since electric power is definitely lost at the time of each conversion, the efficiency of this AC supply system is only 70 to 80%.

On the other hand, the HVDC 12V system at Ishikari will transform AC electric power into HVDC within the PS rack once it supplies electric power to a server in its initial AC form. Therefore, only one AC/DC conversion is required. Once it is converted into HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) the centralized electric power unit in a server rack will drop voltage down to 12V and supply electric power to each server in a safe form. Therefore, this HVDC 12V system achieves an efficiency rate of 90% or more and will realize large power savings in comparison with a conventional AC electric power system.

Adoption of HVDC (high-voltage direct-current) electric supply system

Realizing PUE 1.11 and challenging more with the ideal climate of Hokkaido

So far, the introduction of a method to provide free cooling to a Japanese data center has remained in the experimental stage. Nevertheless, this Ishikari model will extensively employ free cooling and is projected to deliver a low PUE value and thus, a low environmental impact. By utilizing the low-temperature open air of Hokkaido, the Ishikari data center’s PUE (which is an index of a computer data center’s energy efficiency) is expected to achieve a 1.11 rating after one year. During the summer, when standard air conditioning will be used, it has been calculated that the PUE will still attain a 1.21 rating. Moreover, in the course of experiments designed to duplicate severe temperature-humidity conditions for a server, the challenges to obtaining a PUE classification of 1.0 (1.0X) were met by suspending a simple air conditioning fan inside the server room.

※ What's PUE?
PUE is a measurement of the total power delivered to a computer data center divided by its IT equipment’s power usage level. Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is an especially important factor in data centers. The Ishikari data center will be so efficient that this value has been calculated to approach 1.0. Generally, data center efficiency is considered to be good if this value is under 2.0.

Sustainability to achieve sound environmental performance in the future.

In addition to the improvement in the energy efficiency ratio by using free cooling, the environment will be protected by other various systems within the facility, such as, for example, using the heat exhaust from a server to effectively heat an office. Furthermore, renewable energy, such as wind power and snow ice, may be able to be exploited in Ishikari. Therefore, when extending the life span of a data center into the future, the exploitation of natural power sources that aim at further improvement in environmental performance are considerations to be taken into account. The container type modular data center design, which is expected to spread onward from this point in time, has also been adopted into the Ishikari project. We will continue to meet further challenges in an effort to achieve sound environmental performance in the future.

Eventual view of the Ishikari Data Center

Overview of first phase (1000 racks / 2 buildings)

Overview of first phase (1000 racks / 2 buildings)

Overview of last phase (8 buildings)

Overview of last phase (8 buildings)

Scheme of Ishikari Data Center

Facility Name SAKURA Internet Ishikari Data Center
Location Ishikari city, Hokkaido , Japan
Site Area 51,448m2 (553,779 sq foot)
Building Area 7,091m2(76,326 sq foot) *1
Architectural Area 11,392m2(122,622 sq foot) *1
Building Structure 2 stories above ground / Steel Frame
Computing Density 1000 racks *2
Receiving voltage 66,000V(High-Voltage)
Electric Power Density 8kVA/rack regular (15kVA/rack maximum)
Floor loading 1,000kg/m2
Constructor Taisei Corporation
Completion of Construction 15th November 2011

*1:2 buildings.
*2:2 buildings, up to 4,000 racks/8 buildings.