The Evolution of Data Center Containment8 min read
Containing hot or cold aisles in computer rooms has become almost as standard practice as installing grommets and blanking panels. According to a study in 2012, 78% of data centers had deployed some form of containment. While the benefits of containment are well known, there are no hard and fast rules for choosing a solution. There is certainly no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and data center operators have many choices to make in regards to their containment solution: Hot or cold aisle containment? Soft or rigid containment? Sliding doors or swinging doors?
Fortunately, data center managers can take their pick of the lot as the options continue to expand. While the applications may vary, the core airflow management benefits of all forms of containment are similar and well documented: reduced hot spots, reduced mixing of hot and cold air, increased rack density, and ultimately energy savings as a result of being able to adjust CRAC/CRAH units etc. To some degree, most solutions provide these benefits.
However, through the history of containment one common theme emerges: the burden of installation. Most solutions require a 3rd party to come to your site, take measurements, and design a customized solution that fits precisely on the designated row. This process takes considerable time and expense, and often results in solutions that are so customized to one aisle that they cannot easily be moved to another. Additionally, the construction required to install them can disrupt normal operations, as items must be hard-mounted into the ceilings, floors and racks.
The newest form of containment, AisleLok Modular Containment, has been engineered to provide the core benefits of traditional containment solutions, but with the flexibility of ‘modules’ that are installed on an individual rack basis. This allows great flexibility, as any row can be scaled up and down as needed. AisleLok Modular Containment also addresses the issue of inconvenient installation with a user-friendly magnetic application that can be self-installed in just minutes. The magnetic application allows the product to be installed quickly and easily without 3rd party assistance, and also minimizes any disruption to computer room operations. In essence, this new application saves both time and money.
Dave Martinez, a pioneer containment user, has been using various forms of containment in his Sandia National Lab data center since the 1980’s. When Upsite approached him for testing some of the new AisleLok Modular Containment components on his site, he gladly obliged. “I always like to be aware of new solutions that enter the market, and see how they can solve my problems differently than what’s currently available.” After AisleLok testing, Sandia ordered several pairs of doors and began using them on hot-spot problem areas throughout the room.
Dave’s experience speaks to the significance of this latest evolution in containment solutions. As data centers become denser and the need for efficient airflow management continues to increase, data center managers now have another option that provides added convenience and affordability.
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