The Tool-Less Data Center: How New Designs Make Upgrading and Retrofitting Much Easier10 min read

by | Nov 21, 2018 | Blog

A major stopping point for many data center leaders when it comes to upgrading, updating, or even retrofitting their data centers is complexity. Do I have to rip everything out? Do I need to replace entire segments of my data center? While this may have been true in the past, new product designs are making it easier to modify both large and small data center environments effortlessly. These tool-less designs aim to make updates easier, increase efficiency, and give you ROI almost as soon as you put them in.

In fact, in the past, deploying modular containment solutions for example, would take days if not weeks. Now, new designs are allowing you to implement containment and other airflow management solutionsin just minutes.

This is the concept of a tool-less data center. Or, the ‘Lego’ approach to airflow management solutions. Solutions like these are easily installed, moved, re-applied, and adjusted for varying data center requirements – all without the need for tools. Let me give you a simple example, a blanking panel. Designed to effectively seal openings in IT equipment cabinets and control airflow for optimized cooling effectiveness, HotLok Blanking Panels are easily and quickly deployed. However, it’s not just about deployment. It’s also about the benefits these panels can provide. First of all, their tool-less, snap-in design requires no additional parts or components for installation. Second, cantilevered sealing vanes eliminate the gap between adjoining blanking panels or with installed equipment to provide the most effective seal on the market.

Here’s another example: Under Rack Panels. Like blanking panels, this is another quick and easy way to improve airflow management by either blocking bypass airflow or exhaust air recirculation. It employs a unique sealing technology which allows easy, for just the right placement and height. It’s a perfect complement to existing blanking panels and accommodates thermal efficiencies in the data center.

Again, what used to take days to accomplish can be done within just a few minutes with these solutions. And, there are massive benefits outside of just saving time around deployment. This includes:

  • Containment for either hot or cold aisle
  • Solution for both new builds and retrofit data centers that can be deployed in minutes without the need for contract labor, significantly reducing installation costs
  • Entirely tool-less design that allows for easy installation, removal, and re-installation (this also means no drilling required in racks or cabinets)
  • Modular design accommodates a variety of aisles and cabinets
  • Polycarbonate design that’s available in a variety of fire ratings
  • Economical design and deployment solution
  • Reduction of IT equipment intake temperatures, improving equipment life and reliability
  • Reduction of operating costs by improving thermal efficiency

At the last AFCOM Data Center World conference I had the chance to work with these tool-less, magnetic, designs hands-on. I was able to take a door off and move to another spot in just a minute or two. A simple twist on the magnetic lock and the door would easily, and safely, come off. Then, attaching a magnetic component to a rack or aisle was the exact same process. That is, align, and lock into place. I can’t stress the simplicity of this enough.

It really is a paradigm shift when talking about deploying airflow management solutions. I came from a background where this was a critical, yet painstaking process. It would take long to design and even longer to optimize. Upsite has truly revolutionized this entire approach. Whether it’s an under rack panel, a sliding door, a transom window, or a blanking panel, your data center can experience a tool-less approach to airflow management and all the resultant benefits.

My biggest point here is to just give it a try. The best way to experience these solutions is to see how they work within your data center. These airflow management designs will help you break the paradigm around legacy deployments and next-generation tool-less designs.

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman

Industry Analyst | Board Advisory Member | Writer/Blogger/Speaker | Contributing Editor | Executive | Millennial

Bill Kleyman is an award-winning data center, cloud, and digital infrastructure leader. He was ranked globally by an Onalytica Study as one of the leading executives in cloud computing and data security. He has spent more than 15 years specializing in the cybersecurity, virtualization, cloud, and data center industry. As an award-winning technologist, his most recent efforts with the Infrastructure Masons were recognized when he received the 2020 IM100 Award and the 2021 iMasons Education Champion Award for his work with numerous HBCUs and for helping diversify the digital infrastructure talent pool.

As an industry analyst, speaker, and author, Bill helps the digital infrastructure teams develop new ways to impact data center design, cloud architecture, security models (both physical and software), and how to work with new and emerging technologies.

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