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A Basic Guide To Data Center Cooling

Albert Ahdoot

Server rooms run hot, that’s a given. Yet, so many people overlook the basics when it comes to proper server room cooling.

data center cooling trends

Every piece of IT equipment housed in a data center generates a certain amount of heat. As computational demand increases so does the need to keep such equipment cool. Every facility, from an enterprise class data center to a basic tier II facility can benefit from simple cooling methods.

Cooling 101

Server rooms run hot, that’s a given. Yet, so many people overlook the basics when it comes to proper server room cooling. Server rack density is one area everyone should pay special attention to. Too many servers in one rack will lead to overheating, especially if the new equipment is mix-matched with older-less efficient dedicated servers. Periodically upgrading the equipment in a server room also allows for greater efficiency. If servers work less hard, they won’t overheat, or so is the general line of thought. Remember that old desktop of yours huffing and puffing just to complete a simple task. Old server equipment is no different.

Consolidate Space

At times, colocation facilities experience more vacancy than normal. In such a case, it is a good idea to cut down on the total amount of floorspace that you actually need. Why? Because data centers often end up pumping cool air through floor space that isn’t being used. Consolidating floor space will effectively reduce the area in which you have to cool, which will cut down on utilities. It’s a simple but effective method, especially for smaller data centers who aren’t operating at capacity.

Embrace New Technology

Those who have a bit of a budget to play with will want to consider other types of cooling methods such as: liquid cooling or DCIM software. Liquid cooling has been slow to take off in our industry but can provide enough cooling for vital hardware without zapping tons of electricity. 3M has been experimenting with immersion cooling, a process in which a server is submerged in dielectric liquid. The liquid transfers heat to a condenser (much like a refrigerator) and cools server equipment in the process. Although still a ways off in terms of adoption, expect to see more liquid cooling methods come into play.

DCIM (data center infrastructure management) software can lend itself to cooling in a couple of ways. If facilities can monitor the behavior of IT equipment it can effectively control how much cooling is needed and when. In other words, fans don’t need to running if the computers aren’t working hard. Aside from the more obvious methods; space consolidation, server upgrades, advanced methods of cooling do exist. A thorough audit of server room hardware will reveal where the heat is coming from and what equipment requires the most amount of cooling. Such an audit is the first step to greater efficiency, and, of course a cooler server room.

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