Week 1 June 7-11, 2010.

As you know I am from Puerto Rico, to travel to Ohio was the longest trip on plane I had that I can remember. It started at 8:00 am when my mom and my dad give me a trip from my hometown Mayaguez to the airport at San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was a trip in car and it was about 2 hours long. I was at the airport about 3 hours early so I had to wait for a long time. Then get on the plane for about 3 hours to Philadelphia and waited for the connection flight to Ohio. Finally, I was at Columbus around 10:00 pm. Then I take a cab to University Village, where I was going to live for the next 10 weeks. That night I met my roommates. They are very nice. The place is also super nice it even got bus to go to and from campus and a pool. I got all settle pretty easy because there was a supermarket and a department store at a walking distance. The whole trip was about 14 hours, but it was super fun trip to do.

Next day, Monday, I got my first meeting with my mentor Dr. Stewart.   He told me what to do so I can get started working on this research project.  A title was defined: Some Joules Are More Precious than Others: Managing Renewable Energy in the Datacenter. In other words we are going to make datacenter go green. Three important aspects will be taking in consideration: cost, efficiency and the warm-up/ start up time of these.  It was a pretty nice meeting because he likes pretty much things I liked.  Both of us like going Green and Basketball. (Go Celtics!). 

Next day, Monday, I got my first meeting with my mentor Dr. Stewart.   He told me what to do so I can get started working on this research project.  A title was defined: Some Joules Are More Precious than Others: Managing Renewable Energy in the Datacenter. In other words we are going to make datacenter go green. Three important aspects will be taking in consideration: cost, efficiency and the warm-up/ start up time of these.  It was a pretty nice meeting because he likes pretty much things I liked.  Both of us like going Green and Basketball. (Go Celtics!).  

During the week I had the opportunity to learn about some storage techniques that are not that common.  This really fascinate me because it make me think how much capable of doing things we really are. A not so common alternative is a way to store energy called the "Flying Wheels".  This is basically a work by accelerating a rotor (flywheel) to a very high speed and maintaining the energy in the system as rotational energy. Then this energy can be converted to electrical power to be used as needed.  This week I had been working in polishing the skills I will need to perform research and get the goals proposed for the summer.   It was pretty nice week. In this week I for recreational purposes I had been swimming since there a nice pool in UV I can use.  This had helped me to relax and to organize my ideas of the things I want to do during the summer. 

Week 2 June 14-18, 2010.

This week start up with a meeting with my mentor to talk about what I did in week one. I had been working on storage technologies.  I had been looking up for all type of information about the efficiently, cost, startup/warm-up. I made contact with Phil Nail, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of, a green webhosting company.  Dr. Stewart and I were very pleased to contact him.  They run a solar powered network and he told me I can contact him for information on what is used in the practice and why.  During the week I had various conversations with him looking up for more information about how their datacenters work with renewable energy. main goal is to use as less energy as possible they had a very efficient technology.  It worth, as an example of the difference of using more efficient technology: fourteen of the regular 625 watt servers consume 8,750 watts; where fourteen comparable blade servers only consume 3,990 watts, that is 285 watts per server.  I have also working on to see how they set up the datacenter so it works as efficient as possible. The Sun is used in two ways in this datacenter one is first as energy and also as lighting use the light outside and get it inside using lenses so that there no need for lighting at day. They also use type of cooling uses 90% less electricity (600 watts max). The water used for the air conditioning system is collected by rain water. They also planted a green roof so that the office and datacenter rooms get temperature reduce by 20 degrees or more. So you can see it they didn't they are run what we can call 100% green data center. By having this broad idea of how these datacenters are set up we can find how these can work without depending on the grid making this a cleaner and cheaper way to get run datacenters.

When I am not doing research, in my spare time, I met some people at apartment complex.  People here are very nice and where fascinated that I come from Puerto Rico. We got to know each other and talk for hours.  It was a fun experience to meet people from different places. You can see the differences and similarities of different cultures.  During the weekend we grill hot dogs together. They were great; I ate so much that day. We also went to a great pizza place.  It was about 3 miles from where I lived but it worth; it was one of the greatest pizzas I ever tasted. 

Week 3:  June 21-25, 2010.
This week happen so fast, I keep working with the information search I was working last week with the green data-center, focusing more in their organization.  I also was introduced to the graduate students in the Computer Science and Engineering Department that are working on the same project at Dreese Labs in order to work with them as a team.  Their names are Nan and Jing Li. Nan introduced me to the simulator he was working on. His simulator works like a block diagram.  This simulator takes files for the computer and using the numbers it gets from the files calculates the flow of electricity in a data center. There are two types of blocks. Blocks that uses energy and blocks that supply energy.

It is important to understand how the simulator works.  The simulator works like a block diagram simulator, with interconnections between the components of the system.There are three types of blocks in this simulator: one that supplies energy, one that distributes electric power and one that consumes power. There are also three type of energy suppler in this simulator. One is from wind turbine, other from solar panels, and finally electrical power that we will call grid. The two electrical distributors used in this simulator are PDU's and grid tie. Grid tie is a special type of inverter that is used in a renewable energy power system to convert direct current into alternating current (AC) and feed it into the utility grid. These have electrical distributors that also consume energy so we need to take that in consideration.  It had to be taken also in consideration that the computers only consume energy. You can get a better understanding of this if I you look at the diagram below.

The big problem the simulator has is that it didn't have good trace data, Nan was using the actual data he had. This area needs more attention. In order to solve this aspect, I will be working with Jing. She had some data on one of the components used in the simulator that is called an A power distribution unit (commonly abbreviated to PDU). This is a device that distributes electric power. This data wasn't in the format used in the simulator so here I will study the data to see what we can use and what we can't and organize the useful data so that the simulator can read it.

Week 4 June 28- July 2, 2010

On this week, I finished organizing and formatting the data from the A power distribution unit to be used in the simulator so Nan can use it and get better more realistic results. Dr Stewart also asked me to check out two more datacenters and see what useful information we can get out of these. One of the data centers is part of the big company named Emerson and the other data center is OWC (Other World Computing).

Emerson’s data center is named Emerson's Global Data Center at St. Louis. What is interesting of this of this data center they are is that this datacenter was building with the idea of being most efficient and effective IT operating environment with the idea also of being very energy efficient. This data center has is has an ultimately capacity for 5,000 servers. With a solar array on the roof provides 100 Kilowatts of power to the IT Load. It’s the biggest solar array in the state. It also was designed to cope with a variety of natural and man-made disasters (earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding, fires and telecom fiber cuts). The facility was built to withstand up to a F3 tornado or an earthquake up to 8.0 on the Richter scale. That’s pretty amazing. What I found out is that they used the same products they sell to and integrated them to build this datacenter. They have 2 Caterpillar generators, with the capability to add 2 more. 72 hours of fuel on-site plus room to place an additional fuel tank if needed. There IT equipment populating the cabinets: Cisco, Dell, EMC and Sun technologies. This is a 3 tier data center so it’s pretty reliable what I mean by that is that use three layers of redundancy. That makes it pretty reliable.

The Other World Computing (OWC) datacenter is a 100% on-site wind powered by switching its daily operations energy needs over to a Vestas V39-500 kW wind turbine. This datacenter is 100% on this renewable, non-polluting power source. The 100% self-funded project can provide up to more than double the current energy requirements of all OWC operations, and culminates the energy they don’t use they sell it back to local energy companies.

This weekend was the July 4th holiday weekend.  On Friday, I went downtown with my Chinese roommates to see the fireworks.  There were really nice.  There I met with some friends from my home institution that are working in different Research Projects at the Ohio State University. There we planed what things to do during the weekend.  Using the public bus in the area we were able to get to new great places. We went to the Museum of Art where there was a glass exhibition that was great. It really impacts me.  We also visited different shopping malls. We got a group of 10 people all from Puerto Rico.  In the group were friends from my High School, people new for me and my brother.  (He is also at OSU at a Biomedical Engineering Research Program.)  We all come together to try out a restaurant that serves the “puertorican food” that we miss so much.   The food there was so good. I had a lot of fun during the weekend.

Week 5 July 5 - July 9, 2010

After reading all the information on the website of Emerson Global Data Center at St. Louis, I contacted them to get first hand information, to ask what was needed to understand how these data centers work. This information is valuable because this datacenter was a well thought as our datacenter. I started looking on the website how to get on whole with them and it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Emerson as you may know is a very large company and they didn’t have any contact information on their page. So I had to start from zero. This is kind of a funny story because the first time I tried to make contact I call like that one of the main office. I explain who I was an what I needed, after this I got transferred to another office and then to another this happen like 6-7 times so I had to hang up and start again. I could get a phone number of their data center that day.

Next day I had a meeting with professor Steward and we talk in this meeting he explained a little bit more of the research process and that one of the most important parts are writing a good paper. So he gave me the draft paper of on the project. He told me to read it and try to fix the paper the best I could. Also in this meeting also we managed to contact the other data center is OWC (Other World Computing). Where we come up with some questions about the way this datacenter is set up.

I think that the biggest challenge of this summer research has been working on this research paper. I say this because I had to do a lot critical thinking about what was on this draft paper. I learn that organization is a very important aspect of writing a paper, this is very important because when a person’s reads your paper they most the time they don’t know about your project and have to believe what you’re saying. This is why we need to show good references. When doing a research paper you are trying to answer a common problem. So your answer needs to be a well thought answer so that it could be understood and use in the near future. This challenge was great for me because it give me a better view of what I will be doing in graduate school.

Week 6 July 12 - July 16, 2010

This week started out with a lot of reading. After reading this draft research group paper draft a bunch of times, I was ready to work on it. I understood better about what the project was about and why my work was important in it. Also understating the paper is kind of a challenge because there were some things in the paper that I didn’t know or wasn’t working on. There are some parts of the paper where they discuss some equations. After this I came up with some ideas of things we can change about this paper. I suggested that the intensity of light and wind changes during the day and during the season. This variation can be incorporated in the mathematical model and help to adjust the data in a more realistic way.

On Wednesday I had another meeting with my mentor and explain that we needed to do work on DREU progress report. That there were some questions he had to answer about this research project. In this week I began working on my progress report for the DREU program. In this meeting I also discussed my notes and preliminary ideas on the paper. Also in this week we found out a bunch of information on OWC and they answer some questions we had for them. Like, how there facility connects wind energy to the grid. They told us that they didn’t have a less sophisticated integration of the wind power. They set it up like this because of the startup period. They want to change this but due there a small company it may take some time. They also told that there currently there data center is a pretty small one. At the moment they got 5 full active racks with expansion to support 10 more. The facility has a natural gas backup power. This equipment is serviced on standard schedule and all was installed new in 2008. In normal circumstances, in the event of a power outage requiring the generator – it is providing power to the full facility within 10-18 seconds from power drop, not even long enough for the battery system to register a drop in run time capacity. They told us by using virtualization is a great wait to use less hardware and that there plans, was to move their business moves to become more IT/IS services focused to build an additional on campus data center facility of a larger size when the time comes.

Week 7 July 19 - July 23, 2010

This week I contacted John, from Emerson Global data center in St. Louis he helps us out with information we need to know about this datacenter. The information we needed to know is similar to the information of last week with OWC. We had a hunch about how the power delivery system should look like at their data center based on the data online. The idea of contacting Emerson was to confirm this information. This is information that John gave me helps us know how there facility connects solar energy to the grid and how their power delivery system works.

Basically, our assumption is they use a grid-tie inverter between your power meter and one of your uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). He told us that they have a grid tie inverter that outputs AC power to the main switchgear on the B side bus. From this switchgear we can power anything in the facility including office space, lights or critical loads. This has the net effect of reducing our power consumption on our B side bus by the amount of power produced by the solar array on a given day. They have a capacity for 600kW UPS capacity today scalable up to 1.8MW as needed. This is an internal Emerson data center so there are no other customers supported. But they told us their costs are shown to be competitive with other external cloud offerings.

Due that this data center is that not far from where we are at Ohio we ask for an opportunity to tour the Global data center in St. Louis. My mentor, other students working on this project are going to plan a summer field trip. To see this datacenter this looks like a great opportunity to see what I have been working during this summer period. In the weekend, I went to an Italian restaurant called Bravo. It was very nice place and the food was great. I also watched the new movie Inception. I found it pretty nice.

Week 8 July 26 - July 30, 2010

During this week, I organized the information collected during the summer and began to analyze it in order to get a better understanding of the research process involved. Doing this helped me review what I did during the summer and provided me with an idea of how to use the information gathered in the near future. During this week I started the process of redesigning my website, in order to structure the information published in a way that’s helpful to any of its readers. I’ll be publishing some of what I understood the research process to be, in order to help future undergraduates researches understand the process beforehand. As we did not have to choose a topic for this project, we don’t have to worry about the whole research process itself, but it is still a good idea to understand it and learn how to perform it properly, and effectively. As a student, with an interest in pursuing a graduate degree, understanding this process becomes helpful, and sometimes vital, to succeed.

Week 9 August 2 - August 6, 2010

This week I began formally to write my own technical paper. I will admit it was not an easy task to begin, even with my understanding of the research process. I did not know where to begin, and it became harder than I thought. I contacted my mentor, and asked for advice. It is a good thing to have a mentor that’s there to advise you when you reach a point like this one, and do not know the proper or “right” way to move forward. During this week, I began to write a draft of my research paper using the tips my mentor gave me. He recommended using series of questions to guide my writing and structure my research paper based on the answers to those guiding questions. This process involved having a set of common questions that a reader or the researcher in this case, would like to have answered. Then I understood that I had been working on it since the very first day in the program.

According to my mentor, the research process is based on gathering enough information to answer this questions as detailed as possible. It basically involves answering a question that many have asked themselves, but do not get an acceptable answer. It is important to organize these questions and answers, in a way that you are not just providing people with the right answer but you are giving them enough information to get an answer for them and understand the details, or the process, that led you to reach the information gathered. Perhaps they will find a better way to conduct the process, or perhaps they will be happy enough with the information you gathered, that it will help them reach their own conclusions. It is important to acknowledge that a research paper may be used as a reference from somebody else’s works. So one tries to provide enough information about the topic and the investigation conducted so that they have an idea of the process involved and the way the information was retrieved.

Week 10 August 9 - August 13, 2010

This week I went back home (Puerto Rico), and reunited with my family and friends after months without seeing them. I continued working remotely on my research paper and after many drafts and back-and-forth communications with my mentor; the final version of the technical paper was reached. After I finished my paper, I started organizing and structuring everything I wanted to add into the website’s final version.

In this last entry of my Journal, I would like to thank my mentor Dr. Stewart and the Program Directors, Professors Amato, Camp and Gini, for the opportunity to expand my skill-set and explore one of the different options available out there that I could pursue, when I finish my undergraduate degree. This Program provided me with a new outlook of how work will be after graduation, in my case in both: Industry and Graduate School. I really recommend the Program to any other undergraduate students out there that are interested in expand their knowledge and in getting to know how things work in the real world.