What We Learned at AFCOM: Complex Capabilities & Comprehensive Cooling9 min read

by | Oct 7, 2013 | Blog

Data Center World, sponsored by AFCOM twice a year and hosted this fall in Orlando, Florida, facilitates educational sessions, trending discussions, and networking opportunities for the data center industry. We were excited to participate as an exhibitor last week, sharing many conversations, launching our new Cooling Capacity Assessment, and hosting an ‘overlooked openings’ game with conference attendees. While the networking aspect of Data Center World is always valuable, there were several other key highlights to note.

One of our engineers, Mark Connell, attended multiple sessions and offered his insights gathered from three particular sessions. Here are some highlights and conclusions that from Mark took away from the sessions.

Why measuring PUE isn’t enough
Data centers are developing increasingly more complex metrics and monitoring capabilities. These integrated capabilities are able to track the efficiencies and operations of facilities, but it’s important to keep a comprehensive overview of the data center as a whole. PUE is important, but it’s only one component. Without a greater overview, it can be easy to focus on power usage and forget cooling capacity, overlooked openings, AFM, and other elements of facility operations.

On Monday morning, Future Facilities, a predictive DCIM company, presented a new approach to operational management with their ACE metric. ACE stands for the availability, capacity, and efficiency of a data center – three important metrics for DCIM. For us, this further reinforces why additional metrics are needed to evaluate data center efficiency beyond just PUE. This is exactly why managers are finding our Cooling Capacity Factor (CCF) metric so valuable: it goes beyond just power usage and examines cooling utilization. We believe that additional metrics like this will be added to managers’ dashboards as efficiency continues to evolve.

The Data Center as a Whole
There are further ways to manage integrating the variety of capabilities available to data center managers. New metrics and analytics are important to utilize, not strictly for energy efficiency alone, but also to look at all other parts of the operation. Two other Data Center World sessions highlighted other ways to identify and monitor aspects of data centers.

Thermal mapping and sensors are helping with computer room monitoring. As facilities look beyond PUE, systems have to become more sophisticated to monitor the bigger picture. Another presenter at the conference, Emerson Network Power, a provider of innovative hardware and software DCIM solutions, explored the marriage of sensors and DCIM software to produce a thermal map of a computer room. The thermal maps are produced from the temperature data gathered through the sensors and processed through software, to illustrate which areas need better cooling. This type of solution illustrates a method for monitoring your AFM strategy post-implementation and making adjustments as needed to contribute to improving your facility’s overall operations.

A second tool that can be used to build your comprehensive understanding of your facility is using analytics to proactively manage data centers. Data analytics software can show more of a high-level picture for data center mangers to identify problems and balance the organic nature of the operations. New software presented by Vigilent during their session shows how to evaluate the holistic aspect of data center operations – where energy consumption is and how to tie it back to a course of action. By focusing heavily on data analytics and providing charts and graphics to paint a picture of where the problems are, the software’s resulting diagnoses helps to reveal opportunities for AFM improvements to increase efficiency.

Closing Thoughts
Additional metrics and innovative analytics were present throughout the entire conference, emphasizing how data center managers are continuing to think about increasing the efficiency of their facilities and receiving more details to assess environmental conditions. Beyond just the PUE of a facility, AFM and cooling initiatives are equally important when assessing the operations of a data center as a whole. For us, this reaffirms our CCF methodology, which helps data center managers to measure and monitor their cooling efficiency – a very important piece of the entire data center efficiency picture.

Attendees taking a break at Data Center World

AFCOM-Picture

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