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The Data Centre Cooling Dilemma

23rd, September 2013

Cooling systems typically represent one of the largest single capital investments within a data centre environment. With a 10 to 15 year life the wrong decision when upgrading or purchasing a new cooling system will have a lasting impact which will be difficult if not impossible to correct.

The selection of cooling equipment and adopted environmental strategy will also have an ongoing and significant impact on the overall power consumption within your data centre.

Traditional Cooling vs. Contemporary Cooling Approaches

Traditionally data centre cooling was achieved by the use of Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units positioned around the perimeter of the room typically delivering cold air forced under the raised access floor. Whilst this configuration is still valid it is typically restricted to <10kW per rack with the use of high capacity floor grille tiles.

The introduction of new technologies such as aisle containment, direct / indirect free air cooling, In-row cooling, Rear Rack / Heat Exchange cooling, air flow monitoring and better data centre deigns have all contributed to significant improvements in data centre cooling over the last few years.

In recent years some data centre owners have adopted ASHRAE. Recommended and Class A1 Allowable environmental parameters moving from an input temperature <20°C ranges typically between 24°C and 27°C.

This data centre cooling evolution has inadvertently complicated technology selection and introduced an array of environmental configuration decisions that must be made. 

There are many other considerations and complications that also need to be factored into any system selection;

  • Many cooling technologies are difficult to retrofit within existing facilities.
  • There are areas where expert opinion is divided for example use of chilled water in the data centre or on the pros and cons of deploying direct vs. indirect fresh air cooling.
  • The introduction of blade servers leading to the increase of rack power densities.
  • Issues such as how do you address thermal runaway and data centre meltdown under power failure scenarios.
  • Limitations and location of external compound space.

In conclusion when cooling upgrades, replacements or new systems are required Data Centre managers should not make hasty decisions without expert advice.

Data Centre Design & Build Specialist

Cooling equipment manufacturers will all too frequently have a narrow and bias view steering you to installing their product without considering all relevant factors and options.

Generalist M&E consultants very often have limited exposure or no practical experience of designing or installing data centre solutions.

To avoid selection issues it is recommended that you engage an experienced Data Centre Design and Build company with the ability to provide objective technical advice and recommendations. Specialist companies will also have the ability to provide a complete “turnkey” installation including all related electrical, design, construction, fire and management integration.

Workspace Technology is one of the UK’s fastest growing and most experienced Data Centre Design, Build & Management companies who can offer objective and expert advice based on your individual circumstances and business demands.

With an impressive installed based of data centre cooling installations ranging from In-Row, Rear Rack, Fresh Air Free cooling and Perimeter CRAC units, Workspace Technology can help remove the “Cooling Dilemma” and work in a trusted partnership making decisions based on real world experience and time served expertise.

Review our impressive range of data centre Case Studies here.

For further information on Workspace Technology’s Data Centre Solutions & Services please contact roy.griffiths@workspace-technology.com or call 0121 354 4894

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