Next-gen Demands Require Next-gen Cooling and Airflow Solutions9 min read

by | Jul 19, 2017 | Blog

Like power, next-gen cooling must be a big consideration in the cloud-based data center age. Data centers are increasing density, and cooling is critical to keep operations running efficiently. As the AFCOM State of the Data Center report discussed, when we look at cooling, more than 58% indicated that they currently run, and will continue to run at least N+1 redundant cooling systems. Both today and three years from now – 18% will operate a N+2 cooling redundancy architecture. This means you should look for technologies that allow for Tier IV operation, as they present no potential points of failure around redundant systems.

Consider this, a recent US Department of Energy report found that in 2014, data centers in the U.S. consumed an estimated 70 billion kWh, representing about 1.8% of total U.S. electricity consumption. This report shows that data center electricity consumption increased by about 4% from 2010-2014, a large shift from the 24% percent increase estimated from 2005-2010 and the nearly 90% increase estimated from 2000-2005. Energy use is expected to continue slightly increasing in the near future, increasing 4% from 2014-2020, the same rate as the past five years. Based on current trend estimates, U.S. data centers are projected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020.

Here’s the cool part in the report – the potential impact from an adoption of energy efficiency strategies is estimated to help organizations annually save up to 33 billion kWh by 2020, representing a 45% reduction in electricity demand when compared to current efficiency trends.

A great way to capitalize on these efficiency trends is to analyze your own cooling and airflow management platform.

The idea is simple: “Measure, improve, maintain, and evolve.” This means using continuously proactive tools that maintain clear visibility into data center efficiency. Data center efficiency scales far beyond power alone. As rack heat densities approach and increase above 5kW, holistic cooling optimization technologies are able to offer approaches such as containment systems, cabinets with enhanced sealing features, and energy efficient computer room layouts.

Remember, cooling energy inefficiencies expose the data center to:

  • Poor separation of hot and cold air causing loss of cooling effectiveness.
  • Air leaking through cabinets allowing hot air circulation back into equipment inlets instead of flowing into the CRAC units.
  • Airflow obstructions that constrict cooling airflow.

To overcome these challenges, new types of systems – designed to specifically impact various types of data center configurations – can fundamentally change the way you manage airflow. This means deploying solutions at the floor, rack, and aisle levels. From there, monitoring and managing these airflow mechanisms is absolutely critical. Think of cooling more of as a science rather than a set course of actions. As your data center and business requirements evolve, you’ll need to look at new types of cooling options to keep up. When you can evolve efficiency while keeping pace with the business, you can create real savings and better data center management economics. Remember, a good cooling solution comes with a lot of key benefits and efficiencies for the data center. This includes:

  • Flexible Configurations
  • Greater Levels of Redundancy
  • Lower Maintenance Costs
  • Improved Overall AFM
  • Better Capacity Matching Requirements

Here’s another big one: avoiding downtime. Good airflow management will keep your ecosystem running more optimally. Not only can you more effectively control the temperatures within your data center, you’ll also be able to save money while keeping the ecosystem running at optimal health.

Remember, optimizing the data center not only helps your organization regain control over valuable resources – it helps your administrators plan for the future.

To have an optimally running data center, which can support technologies like convergence and cloud computing, your organization will have to take data center infrastructure to a new level. New kinds of cooling technologies and power systems aim to create an even healthier data center ecosystem capable of evolving with new trends. Here’s the good news – more technologies are being implemented into the data center which allows for a much more flexible rack and floor architecture. It’s becoming easier to segment racks, divert power/cooling via automation, and enable even better mechanics around environmental control. Remember, data center operators typically look for two key characteristics in their cooling solutions: high reliability and low operating costs. Through the deployment of efficient cooling solutions – you can achieve these benefits.

Bill Kleyman

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