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Data Centre Airflow Management

Good airflow management is crucial to effective & efficient datacentre operation; old and new.

As demand for IT services has increased, so has data centre energy consumption. Companies are under more pressure from consumers and governments to demonstrate their commitment to their CSR (Corporate & Social Responsibility) agenda; this combined with increasing energy prices has made data centre operators focus on how efficiently they run their data centre facilities.

In most data centres (legacy and new), cooling energy represents the largest component of the total energy consumption, after the IT energy. It is also the area which presents the largest opportunity for energy saving. Recently we have seen significant investment focused around new free-cooling initiatives, (well documented in the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres Best Practice Guidelines to view click HERE) but without good ongoing airflow management, return on this investment, cooling performance, and resilience can be significantly compromised. Airflow is an optimisation strategy offering energy saving on its own merits; it is also the enabler to further free-cooling energy saving solutions; and a performance enhancing initiative to get the maximum return on investment from “air-side” cooling plant. Mismanaged, and in addition to exhaustive energy costs, results can be catastrophic- culminating in downtime due to operating too hot, too cold, wet, over-pressure, or from excessive contamination- particulate or biological.

Most legacy designs are not optimised for energy efficiency, particularly at part loads. The concept of flooding the data hall with cold air to prevent overheating and ensure reliability proves ineffective as the supplied air is not directed to the heat loads and the return air not separated, resulting in local areas of high temperatures supplied to IT equipment. These cooling problems are often misunderstood. Measuring Air Performance allows operators to quantify the effectiveness of cooling in the data centre which can assist with problem diagnosis and solution development.

The ultimate objective is to minimise the cooling system energy consumption, increase the data centre energy efficiency and minimise capital, operational and reliability costs, i.e. total cost of ownership.

Airflow improvement can be quantified by conducting a survey- collecting sample data before and after these recommendations have been implemented. We’ve found that a little analysis can have big payoffs. For example, thermal imaging can help you quickly characterize your facility hot spots, identify bypass, recirculation and negative pressure symptoms , whilst analytical review between supply & demand air volume can balance delivery.

Contact 8 Solutions to discover how we can help revitalise your data centre airflow management with our solutions.