Like many of you, I’m a huge fan of cloud computing. I’ve been lucky enough to see first-hand how the cloud has enabled thousands of companies worldwide get started without having to spend large amounts of CapEx or commit to long term OpEx contracts just to realize an idea or launch a product without any notion of whether it will be a bust or the next big thing.
I started working at GoGrid’s originating company ServePath in 2005 where our main product lines were dedicated servers and collocation services. ServePath was a pioneer in dedicated managed servers at a time when private networks and load balancing on shared network infrastructure were not yet productized.
John Keagy, GoGrid’s Founder & CEO (now Executive Chairman), was always pushing the boundaries within the four walls of our data center with his motto, “complex infrastructure made easy.” It was with this vision that GoGrid was developed and became a very successful provider of Infrastructure as a Service. However it’s also because of that same vision the GoGrid Ops team has spent countless hours at a whiteboard figuring out how to support “complex infrastructure made easy”.
In the six-plus years of building out our data centers and revamping them to support the constant growth of our cloud computing platform, one thing has stayed constant: power density continues to increase. When we first filled up our flagship San Francisco facility, we had power capacity to spare. As the growth of our dedicated server service became even more compelling over collocation, we started seeing an uptick in our power utilization per rack; power density was increasing from 2-3 kilowatts per rack up to 4-5 kilowatts per rack – that is when we first realized that power could become our limiting factor in our data center if this trend continued. In 2007 when GoGrid was being developed, we were asked to build out the infrastructure to support 7 – 10 kilowatts per rack, a 250% – 500% increase in power density per rack! At 2-3 kilowatts per rack, imagine you’re sitting in a small office with a space heater and you turn it on full blast, it can get a bit warm, however you can stay in the room and continue to work. When we were tasked to build racks at 7- 10 kilowatts, it was like adding 25 space heaters in the same size room; unless you make some changes to your cooling system and redesign your rack layout, you are going to feel the heat real fast. As you can imagine, not only did this create a challenge in regards to supporting that much power, cooling that much power became quite a challenge as well. But we have overcome these challenges and continue to grow.
You may be wondering how much is GoGrid’s power bill with that type of power density, and whether it is even economically scalable. Without breaking out the spreadsheets, I can assure you that one of the many benefits of cloud computing is power saving. You see, in the past, 20 servers could be supported by a dedicated server rack drawing 2 – 3 kilowatts of power, but now we can support over 2,000 virtual (multi-tenant) servers with the same rack drawing 7-10- kilowatts of power! Feel free to call me a bit of a geek, but it’s that type of efficiency that excites me to work at one of the world’s leading infrastructure as service companies.
There have been and will continue to be many challenges that the Ops Team will face as we transform our datacenters to support GoGrid’s cloud infrastructure, stories that I will be happy to share both the challenges and the benefits in future postings. For now, I hope I have given you a bit of insight into GoGrid and the power benefits that come with cloud computing.