Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar:
You had a plan and a strategy when you were putting your data center together or reorganizing it. It was beautiful, organized, streamlined. The system was efficient and so was the power consumption. Fast forward 6 months and your company’s computing requirements have exponentially increased. Your once well organized data center or network closet, through no fault of its own, has become Frankensteined. An extra rack here and a few more cables there. Things were once labeled well, but now at least one of those labels doesn’t correspond to hardware that exists anymore. Now you’re getting notices of heat spikes and system inefficiencies. It’s time to increase cooled air to the room right?
If any of this sounds a little familiar, we want to help you save space within your racks, avoid buying unnecessary equipment, and save you money on your cooling costs.
As computing needs grow, cooling concerns can fall by the wayside in favor of supply. With a little extra planning, you can increase computing power, plan for cooling and energy, and keep your system organized and manageable.
Many times with small adjustments you don’t need to increase cooling capacity, but make smarter decisions with the components inside the rack. These processes are relatively low cost.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll cover strategies to implement within the rack to keep your system cool and up and running. A few areas of concerns we’ll cover are:
- Power Distribution
- Cable Management
- Blanking Panels
Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold Inside the Racks
Before we get to that let’s talk about the optimal cooling temperature for the data center. As we work to maximize efficiencies inside the rack, what is the most efficient temperature for your data center to operate?
It’s a common misunderstanding that data centers should be kept freezing cold. Most IT equipment manufacturers for small to medium sized data centers recommend an intake temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
The equipment is designed to function for short amounts of time up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Running for longer times at these temperatures will shorten the lifespan of the equipment.
Keeping the server room below 77 degrees Fahrenheit doesn’t increase efficiency in the equipment. Meaning the cooling is an unnecessary expense and waste of energy.
Above 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the equipment can run. But the increased speed and power consumption of the equipment counteracts energy and financial savings.
Only cooling the room through the air conditioning system, without looking at the overall power and cooling strategy, can also lead to a waste of energy and money.
Cooling the Room
Sending more cold air to the room through the building’s HVAC system or through a CRAC (computer room air conditioner), may not be the best long term solution for keeping your data center cooled and running efficiently.
The first step we would recommend is a site audit of your data center or server closet. This will give us an understanding of the heating and cooling inefficiencies within your space.
Instead of pumping more cool air into the place, we need to find ways to separate the hot air from the cool air. IT equipment is going to constantly give off hot air. The objective is to find ways to direct the hot air away from the equipment. Otherwise the hot air will run into the cool air and only increase the temperature of the cool air.
Like water, hot air seeks the path of least resistance. Simple solutions can make a big difference to redirect the heat. If servers and racks are mounted with too much open space around them, the hot air will recirculate and increase intake air temperature. Even in a chilly room this could cause the servers to overheat and shut down. Organizing the inside of data center racks will help this.
Inside the Rack
There are techniques for setting up your equipment in the room itself. But let’s talk about some lower cost strategies for setting up things inside the racks. From cable management to new efficient PDUs to adding blanking panels, we’re going to talk about these simple solutions for keeping your system cool without increasing the energy bill.
Sometimes the small adjustments can have the biggest impact on the overall efficiency.
In the next post, we’ll cover how a universal power adapter can keep your space organized and cool.