Data Center Cooling: The Basics

  • Data Center Cooling: The Basics
    • March 2 2016

    When it comes to the modern data center, ensuring that a facility is operating safely and effectively is a central concern in the selection process. Due to an incredibly complex infrastructure, data centers can be very energy intensive, and as such, understanding a data center’s cooling structure can help a prospect evaluate whether a facility can protect and maintain their IT equipment.

    Increased Reliability

    Eliminating air re-circulation and bypassing airflow prevents racks from being exposed to potentially detrimental warm air that may cause thermal stress to IT equipment. If equipment is exposed to increased temperatures for a large amount of time, the overall life of the equipment may be reduced.

    interconnectionAs technology is updated, the necessity for data center cooling systems to be refreshed may arise as well. A reliable data center provider will strive to be aware of these issues, taking a concern such as lifespan reduction into account in order to determine its potential effect on cooling operations. Reliable IT equipment is often a priority for prospects, so a facility that also sees reliability as a priority and maintains its data center cooling system as such may help narrow the selection process.

    Data Center Cooling Efficiency

    Data center cooling – at its core – is the practice of separating hot air from cold air. Too much hot air circulating in a data center can cause equipment to overheat and malfunction. A facility that is able to do this reliably, cost effectively, and with consistent monitoring in place is on the right track to cooling efficiency.

    Network cables in data centerA general rule of thumb for data center cooling efficiency is to aim toward minimizing the volume of air to cool through directed cooling. Directed data center cooling requires that each rack or cabinet is contained within its own system in the facility. Once contained, racks are typically arranged so as to not draw hot air from surrounding servers. Cable and hardware monitoring ensures that all materials are organized and will reduce blocked airflow.

    Outside of the servers, evaluating the amount of additional heat sources in the facility will reflect a facility’s cooling system as well. Traditional systems or energy-saving models may be utilized, depending on the facility’s needs. The facility’s infrastructure as a whole may be evaluated to determine where the data center’s hot spots are and how to arrange equipment around them. Data centers that are mindful of these considerations are in a position to eliminate redundant air recirculation and bypass airflow.

    Cost-Effective Energy Consumption

    As previously stated, data centers can be very energy intensive – and as such, very costly. The amount of energy that a cooling system uses, however, is variable and depends on the type of data center cooling system in place.

    RedunancyEnergy consumption and cost-effectiveness can be influenced by design and operation of the facility. In general, if a facility is able to limit and optimize the CRAC units in use for cooling, they can expect to see more efficient energy consumption. However, the extent of this practice is dependent on the facility’s needs. A data center that functions at a higher temperature will require less cooling and fewer units. In other data centers, a portion of the units may not be necessary and can be turned off, reducing energy and maintenance costs overall.

    Maintenance & Monitoring

    colocation hosting miamiRegardless of the data center cooling system a facility chooses, maintenance and monitoring is a common part of the equation. Server room monitoring and maintenance can assist the IT team in determining whether their current cooling system is working. Additionally, maintenance and monitoring can provide peace of mind to customers who are concerned with the climate readings on their equipment.

    Proper monitoring and maintenance acts as a precaution to any cooling risks that may arise in the data center. It also allows managers to evaluate whether their cooling systems need an upgrade. Regularly troubleshooting allows the IT department to keep track of temperature and humidity while making any necessary changes to protect customers’ critical information. It is important that the provider continues to invest in new cooling technologies to protect equipment and increase its performance.

    Data center cooling systems have become a staple of colocation facility operations. In order to meet the demands of a complex IT infrastructure, data center cooling practices have become essential. Elements such as efficiency, reliability, cost-effective energy consumption and maintenance and monitoring are a few facets of the cooling process that can help to determine the right provider for a prospect’s IT outsourcing needs. This information can provide a necessary foundation when weighing facility providers.

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