Data center environmental control
Data center environmental control is a constructive generic framework for maintaining temperature, humidity, and other physical qualities of air within a specific range in order to allow the equipment housed in a data center to perform optimally throughout its lifespan.
Air flow management addresses the need to improve data center computer cooling efficiency by preventing the recirculation of hot air exhausted from IT equipment and reducing bypass airflow. There are several methods of separating hot and cold airstreams, such as hot/cold aisle containment and in-row cooling units.
Overheating of data center equipment can result in reduced server performance or equipment damage due to hot exhaust air finding its way into an air inlet. Atmospheric stratification can require setting cooling equipment temperatures lower than recommended. Mixing the cooled air and exhausted air increases refrigeration costs.
IT vendors recommend maintaining temperature of 70–75 °F (21–24 °C). The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) states that the recommended temperatures is between 68–77 °F (20–25 °C), with an allowable range spanning 59–90 °F (15–32 °C). Research has shown, however, that the practice of keeping data centers at or below 70 °F (21 °C) may be wasting money and energy. Overcooling equipment, in environments with a high relative humidity, can expose equipment to a high amount of moisture that facilitates the growth of salt deposits on conductive filaments in the circuitry.
Blanking plates and other fittings around the edge, top, floor, or the rack direct air intake so that only air from the cold aisle reaches equipment intakes and prevent leakage of exhaust air into the intake area. Fans on the top or rear doors of the cabinet ensure a negative pressure for exhaust air coming out of equipment. Effective airflow management prevents hot spots, which are especially common in the top spaces of a rack, and allows the temperature of cold aisles to be raised.
Hot/Cold Aisle Containment
The purpose of cold aisle containment is to optimise the flow of air within your data centre, to reduce energy costs and keeping cool air at the inlet side. All installation equipment, such as sheet metal walls, doors and ceilings will all be sourced and installed to industry standards. This means that hot air from the data centre won’t be recirculated and mixed with the cold inlet air, which can cause risky in-rack hot spots to develop over time. Instead, it goes straight to the HVAC unit for cooling.
Containment of hot/cold aisles and ducting hot air from cabinets are intended to prevent cool/exhaust air mixing within server rooms. Generally rows of cabinets face each other so that cool air can reach the equipment air intakes at the set temperature point for the room.
A more recent addition to the consideration of above floor containment is below floor air flow control. A range of underfloor panels can be fitted within the raised floor plenum to create efficient cold air pathways direct to the raised floor vented tiles.
Containment is generally implemented by physical separation of the hot and cold aisles, using blanking panels, PVC curtains or hard panel boards. Containment strategies could differ based on various factors including server tolerance, ambient temperature requirements and leakage from data centers.
There are a number of accredited UK based companies who have Military Security Clearance which is essential and allows them to install Hot/Cold Aisle Containment systems into large secure data centres. One such company Puffin Solutions have been awarded many secure international contracts.
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- Cosmano, Joe (2009), Choosing a Data Center, Disaster Recovery Journal, retrieved 2012-07-21
- Garrett, David (2004), Heat Of The Moment, Processor, retrieved 2012-07-21
- Data center containment - Hot aisle or cold aisle?