5 Great Ways to Control Data Center Environmental Variables

by | Apr 19, 2017 | Blog

The modern data center continues to evolve with new types of systems, designs and deployment models. Just look at how much we are storing within the current data center platform and how fast it’s all growing. In fact, a recent Cisco Cloud Index Report indicated that by 2020, data center storage installed capacity will grow to 1.8 ZB, up from 382 EB in 2015, nearly a 5-fold growth. Furthermore, global cloud IP traffic will account for more than
92 percent of total data center traffic by 2020.

High-density systems, HPC clusters, and a growing cloud are all impacting how data centers control and utilize resources. A major aspect of controlling all of this growth around data and the data center is maintaining consistent environmental and operational control at the data center level. So – how are organizations managing their distributed data center infrastructures? What are some great ways where environmental variables can be controlled at a data center, server and cloud levels?

Let’s take a look!

Dynamic cooling optimization. That just sounds cool, right? Imagine inserting a dynamic cooling optimization module into your data center. This module takes control of your cooling infrastructure to dynamically match the output to the prevailing heat load. Furthermore, it helps reduce your operating expenditures by minimizing wasted cooling capacity. This type of system helps create automation within the data center by automatically turning off cooling units when they are not needed based on the measured conditions inside the white space. And the system automatically turns cooling units back on when required – and their temperature, as well as humidity, will also be automatically regulated.

Server monitoring and power optimization. How do you manage and optimize data center resources that you cannot see? An effective way to control your data center and the various cooling/power aspects is to integrate server-level monitoring and power optimization directly into your management platform. This type of system provides cost-effective monitoring solutions that can be installed across network closets, server rooms, and enterprise data centers. Monitoring and power optimization modules enable server-level monitoring and power capping, helping result in significant energy savings, capacity optimization, reduced over-provisioning, and delayed investments in new server equipment. Furthermore, you gain the visibility of real-time data, trending capabilities, security integration, and auto-discovery. This type of system helps keep your data center running optimally and proactively healthy.

“… global cloud IP traffic will account for more than 92 percent of total data center traffic by 2020.”

Custom, packaged, systems. New demands regarding different types of data centers have created new ways to cool and control an environment. The emergence of the cloud and micro-data centers requires a unique view into the HVAC and control platform. In deploying a custom HVAC system – you’re working with a platform which specializes in working with architects, engineers, contractors, and building owners to provide custom systems that are the best and most economical solutions for the entire lifecycle of the facilities they serve. Some of these requirements can be based on energy efficiency, quiet acoustic performance, a custom footprint, or LEED certification of your high-performance facility. The point is that a custom approach may be best for your specific use-case data center platform. Which brings us to the next point.

Use-case specific solutions. What are your demands? Do you have a very specific use-case data center scenario? By understanding your application-specific requirements, you can work with an HVAC and cooling solution that is suitable for a wide variety of application types, including hospitals, pharmaceutical firms, schools, public buildings, food processing facilities, manufacturing plants, hotels, commercial office buildings, and various other industrial applications. Limited only by the designer’s imagination, these HVAC systems are designed for complex and demanding applications. Furthermore, for sensitive environments, working with key airflow control technologies is vital. Remember, airflow management products are specifically designed to limit bypass airflow by effectively sealing the openings in raised floors. There are a variety of solutions to help control airflow within almost any type of environment.

On-going capacity assessments. Based on an original research report conducted by Upsite Technologies of 45 data centers worldwide, the average data center uses 3.9 times more cooling capacity than IT load. This excessive use of cooling results from a poor airflow management strategy, as well as the misunderstanding and misdiagnoses of cooling problems. Few managers realize that many computer room cooling problems can be solved by simply implementing an AFM strategy, rather than adding more costly cooling units. Remember, cooling and controlling the environmental variables of a data center must be on-going processes. These types of assessments help organizations calculate their cooling capacity factors (CCF), specifically in cases such as stranded capacity, optimization concerning airflow management, and even a thermographic analysis.

The growth in data center demand has created new kinds of challenges for the modern administrator and manager. A distributed environment, more applications, and an always-on end-user have made the data center an absolutely critical piece of a business organization. As the data center evolves – so must the control mechanisms surrounding it. The distributed nature of data center platforms now necessitates that we take environmental and infrastructure management into the logical layer. As important as hardware optimizations are – having direct visibility into data center environmental variables is critical. From there, you can leverage solutions that will meet your specific use-cases and help optimize the overall infrastructure.

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