Liquid cooling will remain nothing more than a fun anecdotal topic for technical articles until several cross-disciplinary challenges are effectively addressed.
Most people who work in the energy efficiency “world” have little sense of the type of business challenges that I.T. staff face on a day-to-day basis. Notably – expectations from the business on almost “instantaneous” deployment of new servers with 100% success, 100% uptime, any number of changing operating system and application parameters which can twist hardware into pretzel on a moment’s notice, technical support that is outsourced globally to people who may or may not have any personal investment in your success, and constant threats from malware and the people who make it.
The truth is that most I.T. staff live in a world that is starting to feel like something from an Upton Sinclair novel. To survive in that type of ecosystem, I.T. people do what technical people under siege often do – they follow the “KISS” principle (“Keep It Simple Stupid”). And in the I.T. world, “KISS” means that the specification for the physical “host” that undergirds their virtual server world is something that doesn’t change very much. Most I.T. hardware is provisioned with every technical option they can afford and then they keep it all exactly the same. The truth is, I.T. staff probably stand little to gain from changing to a liquid-cooled host, but have a lot to lose if that liquid cooled host fails to perform. There are now trends in the industry that indicate that major hardware providers are on the bandwagon for liquid cooling, but it is still going to take time.
After all, are you planning to buy one of the first all-electric pick-up trucks?
I.T. staff probably stand little to gain from changing to a liquid-cooled host, but have a lot to lose if that liquid cooled host fails to perform.
The drive for improved data center energy efficiency has been hamstrung through the emergence of widespread outsourcing of I.T. resources, either to co-location facilities, full cloud implementation, or a combination of both. Outsourcing of I.T. assets is tantamount to making data center energy efficiency (among other things) “someone else’s problem”, something like the way people have no problem leaving all the lights on in their hotel room when they leave. If a colocation facility is not rewarded in any way for energy efficiency from its customers, there’s no need to make energy efficiency a priority. Especially, if it comes at the cost of creating up-time risk.
As it happens, most enterprises are relying heavily on the outsourced I.T., but are beginning to demand sustainability from their outsourced I.T. providers. Hence, there is a renewed interest in liquid cooling to find the next frontier of energy efficiency. I.T. staff still need a confidence boost when working with an outsourced facilities staff. Whose fault will it be if the new liquid cooled server goes down?