How the Modern Data Center is Using Next-Gen Environmental Controls8 min read

by | May 21, 2014 | Blog

There’s really no question that the modern data center is changing. Trends indicate that data center technologies are continuously tasked with supporting more users, are supporting a lot more data and are becoming even more interconnected. Through it all, data center administrators are constantly tasked with keeping an efficiently running data center platform. So what can you do when there are more technologies being pushed into the modern data center platform? How can you keep up with growing resource demands? Most importantly – how can you continue to run your data center efficiently and economically?

With all of those questions in mind – let’s look at a few ways where next-generation controls are directly impacting the modern data center.

• Controlling airflow – at all levels. Requirements around airflow have drastically changed over the past few years – but we’ll get into that in a second. Modern requirements show that airflow management is absolutely critical within a high-density, highly-utilized, data center platform. This means airflow management must happen at the raised floor, server rack, and data center aisle level. Controlling intake airflow, blocking poor air circulation, and limiting bypass airflow through intelligent sealing mechanisms all add up to some serious data center airflow controls.

• Understanding the science behind cooling. Each data center is unique – and complex. Standard airflow methodologies simply don’t apply to everyone and new types of data center management requirements can further confuse the situation. Bottom line: The science behind airflow management is continuously evolving. If you’re building out a new data center, are considering building a cloud environment, or need to optimize your current platform – stop – and take the time to understand the science behind data center airflow management (AFM) and provide the knowledge required to implement AFM best practices.

• Creating a cooling capacity assessment. Don’t just deploy an airflow management system based on features or price. Because your data center is so critical to you – it’s just as necessary to evaluate your own airflow requirements. This means understanding your cooling capacity factor (CCF), your stranded capacity, and your AFM requirements. Furthermore, an assessment will help you understand thermographic requirements as well.

• Proactively monitoring resource usage and environment variables. Beyond everything else – make sure to keep an eye on your environment. Continuous airflow testing and monitoring will help you identify issues before they become very serious problems. Tweaking and proactively keeping your environment healthy has a lot more positive benefits than ever before. As your infrastructure operates better – the impacts will be felt all the way to the end-user. Ultimately, you’re helping create a platform which can better support your business goals.

As more technologies are placed into the data center – admins and managers will need to keep their environments running optimally. It’s not just a cost factor either. The dependency around the data center platform has created new levels of uptime requirements. Controlling environmental variables not only helps keep costs in check – it also helps your infrastructure run at healthy levels. Equipment damage, poor performance, and outages are big factors in dollar loss for today’s cloud-connected business. So, as you build out your modern data center platform – make sure to look at next-gen environmental controls for help and direct optimizations.

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman

CTO, MTM Technologies


  1. Bill Kleyman

    @Tom – What a great thought and comment! Talk about a reactive approach to a problem. I completely agree – the health of a data center directly revolves around the ability to manage and control environmental variables. The key here is doing so proactively. The good news is that I’m seeing a lot of modern, newly built and next-gen data center models begin to adopt a more holistic approach to infrastructure airflow controls.

  2. Tom Hurley

    As a data center airflow engineer I am stunned by how few operators know what their required or minimal airflow requirements are. They usually know the IT load and overall power consumption but struggle when we get into airflow requirements discussions. All to often I see the “Whack-A-Mole” approach where perf tiles and fan trays are moved according to the current Hot-spot, only to solve 1 problem and have another pop up elsewhere.
    Time for a holistic approach of the importance or proper airflow, where it is needed, when it is needed.


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