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Containment

Containment, in general, provides some important benefits for an existing data centre:

  • Reliability will be increased by preventing hot spots. Containment can prevent the mixing between hot air and cold air, which can provide a lower uniform IT inlet air temperature for IT equipment to reduce hot spots.
  • Rack power density can be increased by eliminating hot air recirculation. For a traditional, uncontained raised-floor data center, rack power densities are typically kept below 6kW/rack average to help prevent hot IT exhaust air from re-circulating back into the front of the IT equipment. After containing and sealing the holes to eliminate hot air recirculation paths, rack power densities can increase without the threat of hotspots.
  • Cooling capacity will be increased by increasing the “deltaT” (i.e. the difference in temperature between the cold supply air and the hot return air) across cooling units. For a traditional, uncontained raised-floor data center, more than 50% of the cold air supplied from the cooling units will bypass back to these units directly as a result of any leakage paths that exist. After contained, supply air will instead go through IT equipment where it will absorb heat energy and transport it back to the cooling units. The higher exhaust air temperatures will lead to a bigger deltaT across cooling units, which can increase the cooling capacity about 20% or more.
  • Cooling system energy savings will be increased by being able to shut down cooling units that become redundant as the result of effectively separating hot and cold air streams through the use of an air containment system. Additionally, economizer mode hours are increased. When the outdoor temperature is lower than the indoor temperature, the cooling system compressors don’t need to work to reject heat to the outdoors

An assessment of the existing conditions of the facility is essential to choosing the right containment solution for a given datacentre and should be done in advance. During an assessment, constraints are noted. Constraints are obstacles that cannot be overcome, or can only be changed at great expense or with unacceptable consequences. For example, raising the existing datacentre ceiling height is not realistic and is considered as a constraint. The containment may lead to the failure of existing fire detection / suppression system, which is an unacceptable consequence and is also considered as a constraint. Each constraint must be examined to determine its effect on the containment deployment, and whether it is worth the financial cost or other negative consequence of removing it. For complex projects, expert review is essential in order to check the cost or other consequences of constraints, which end users may not be aware of. Once the consequences of certain constraints are clear, it is important to review them and determine if they can be refined or adjusted to achieve a better overall result. Existing facilities have various constraints that are dictated by circumstances and which are not under the control of the customer. Constraints include facility limitations, regulatory limitations, or unchangeable business requirements.

Containment versions traditionally have been classed as Hot Aisle (HAC) or Cold Aisle (CAC). As a derivative, Partially Contained solutions also contribute scalable benefits.