The Importance of Monitoring Airflow
How efficient is your data centre? With the energy consumption of data centres rapidly increasing, the detrimental effects on both the environment and your wallet will be following the same trend. However, there are many ways to reduce your energy consumption and increase your savings, as well as improving the efficiency of your data centre. This article focuses on one method of this, which is airflow management through the implementation of hot or cold aisle containment. Before delving into the solution and the benefits this will provide for you, let’s first take a look at the issues at hand.
The IT industry is under pressure to reduce its energy consumption. The industry as a whole currently consumes 2 percent of the world’s energy, and will generate as much CO2 as the airline industry by 2020. In response to increasing energy consumption, and to reduce its impact, the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres was introduced in 2008. This aims to encourage data centre operators to reduce their energy consumption, by improving their understanding of energy demand within the data centre, and recommending energy efficient methods in the Best Practice Guidelines.
Data Centre Cooling
Accelerating energy requirements of data centres are making them more expensive and unstable to run. Soon, the power required to cool IT equipment will exceed the energy needed to run the system. Cooling of the data centre is frequently the largest energy loss in the facility and, therefore, represents a significant opportunity to improve efficiency. It is a common misconception that overcooling the supply air will maintain optimum temperatures, however, this is ineffective, costly, and increases energy consumption. There are a variety of data centre cooling methods that will optimise data centre efficiency, are cost effective, and will also reduce energy consumption.
Monitoring airflow is an important initial step in optimizing data centre cooling. The objective of airflow management is to circulate only the necessary amount of air through the data centre, preventing air recirculation and the bypass of airflow. Poor airflow management can reduce cooling unit air supply temperatures, or lead to a supply of excessive air volumes, resulting in an increase in energy consumption. Crucial to effective and efficient data centre operation, good airflow management cuts costs by reducing the volume of cooled air that needs to be supplied, and will also improve the temperature distribution across the cabinets.
The most popular and effective solution to improving airflow management is aisle containment. This system segregates hot exhaust air from cold supply air, restricting the loss of cold air, and extracting hot air, to optimise data centre efficiency. There are two main types of aisle containment; hot aisle containment (HAC), and cold aisle containment (CAC). HAC contains the hot air, whereas CAC encloses the cold aisle. Benefits of both include cost effectiveness, favourable return on investment (ROI), improved power usage effectiveness (PUE), decreased carbon emissions, extended IT equipment life, and increased energy savings.
Cross-Guard has over 15 years’ experience in the design and manufacture of aisle containment for data centres worldwide. We supply highly versatile bespoke HAC and CAC products that can be retrofitted to any type of cabinets, easily modified, or re-installed to suit changing requirements. Cross-Guard’s aisle containment systems provide security and segregation of client areas, are available with a variety of fire safety solutions, and come with a choice of sliding doors, hinged doors, or PVC curtains.
After installing cold aisle containment in a Digital Realty datacentre, a case study was commissioned to study the effects it had on power usage effectiveness. Results showed an improvement in PUE from 1.85 to 1.55, and an increase in the IT load within the suite from 250kW to 550kW. This data enabled us to predict savings of £118,500 per year, with ROI being made within 5 months!
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