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The Pantry Inc. Goes Green

SANFORD, N.C. -- The Pantry Inc., operator of 1,644 convenience stores, opened a new data center with state-of-the-art infrastructure that allows for energy savings on power and cooling.

With rising energy costs now becoming a major concern for most large organizations, the interest in reducing data center and IT energy, where the majority of many companies' utility costs are incurred, is on the rise. Organizations such as LEED and Green Grid are stirring interest within c-level executives to turn their companies into eco-friendly, energy efficient consumers and producers, according to Altruent Systems, which was selected by The Pantry to design, engineer and construct the data center.

When The Pantry's management team decided to expand its headquarter's data center, they saw an opportunity to take advantage of new power and cooling technologies, which were environmentally friendly and more productive, according to Ed Collupy, vice president of information technology.

The Pantry had already begun taking advantage of new computing technologies, such as blade servers that have one server chassis consisting of multiple circuit boards, or "blades," that each act as an individual server. This configuration allows more computing power in a smaller space, drastically reducing power consumption, but resulting in highly concentrated heat output. The ability to capture and remove this concentrated heat to maintain an optimal temperature requires a new approach to data center design.

The Pantry's data center uses multiple InRow, 'close coupled' cooling units, which eliminates the need for an inefficient raised floor, and places the cooling units closer to the servers. This captures the heat directly from an intentional 'hot aisle' and distributes cool air to the 'cold aisle.' This prevents the hot and cold air from mixing, which highly improves cooling efficiency, reducing the total energy required to maintain the proper temperature.

"Working together with Altruent, we successfully transformed an outdated data center into one that will carry us forward for many years to come," Collupy said. "These initiatives have positioned The Pantry for continued technology growth along with an outlook towards smart energy-related controls."

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