Dutch Company Combines Fibre-Optic Networks and Space Heating

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Imagine getting your first job as a fibre optic cable installer only to discover that the work you do will be providing space heat in residential homes. It may seem unreal, but it is actually a reality in the Netherlands. An enterprising network server provider has embarked on an unusual plan that provides free space heat to participating customers in exchange for their purchase of broadband internet.

Nerdalize is a small Dutch company now offering data furnaces in line with a 2011 research paper put out by Microsoft. In that research paper, the software giant theorised that the massive amount of heat put off by internet servers could be harnessed for space heating purposes under the right conditions. It proposed creating a data furnace that produces heat simply by operating as a network server.

The products Nerdalize sells and installs have made the Microsoft theory a reality. The furnaces are capable of putting out 1,000 watts apiece, enough to keep a small room warm without much trouble. All the company needs is a residential home with a high-speed fibre-optic connection to make it all work.

The Technology

Traditional data centres have always grappled with the problem of keeping large banks of servers cool, despite running 24 hours a day. Moreover, until recently, the most common practice was to vent the heat outdoors, essentially wasting a free resource unnecessarily. Yes, there have been efforts in the past to utilise data centre heat for other uses. There have been projects implemented to heat swimming pools or provide space heat for university campus buildings. Nevertheless, the Nerdalize project is the first to adapt the idea for individual, small-scale residential use.

The concept is simple: a single data server is installed in a home and connected to a fibre optic network. That server operates just as it would if it were part of a large data centre server rack in the middle of town. Instead of venting the heat it produces outdoors though, that heat is used to keep the house warm.

Making it work requires high-speed Internet connections if Nerdalize wants the network to be competitive. That is where fibre-optic cabling comes in. Fibre-optic produces the best consistent speeds with the least amount of latency across a full day of data transmissions. Even so, Nerdalize networks are not always as fast as some of their competitors. The company believe it is worth it in the long run because of the amount of money saved on cooling. As for their customers, free heat is free heat.

The Fibre Revolution

Who could have imagined when fibre technology first came out that it would be used to marry high-speed networking with providing space heat? What Nerdalize is doing is just further proof that the world is in the midst of a fibre revolution. Is it any wonder companies such as TNS Europe are so enthusiastic about fibre optic cabling? Is it any wonder we are passionate about training individuals for careers in network design, installation and troubleshooting?

The world of high-speed networking continues to push forward to new frontiers. Whether or not the data furnace idea catches on across the globe is anyone's guess. What we do know is that data cabling and networking is a field of work that will only get broader and stronger in the future. Now is the time to get in on the ground floor by training to be a network specialist. Maybe you will get to install a couple of data furnaces along the way!


1.Mashable – http://mashable.com/2015/06/02/nerdalize-data-furnace-free-heating/

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