Critical Facilities Summit

4  FM quick reads on data center

1. Portable Cooling Units One Option In Data Center HVAC Control


I'm Justin Smith, managing editor of web development for Building Operating Management magazine. Today's tip: portable cooling units in data centers. As technology advances and hardware becomes more powerful, the issue of cooling data centers continues to heat up. There's a simple logic to the situation: as facilities add more equipment, the greater the cooling needs will be. One solution is to add a portable cooling unit to your facility. These units can be permanent or temporary and generally are used where known hot spots exist in rooms where large, capital-intensive cooling solutions are not possible. Portable units can supplement existing HVAC systems and installations can be scheduled when maintenance tasks require the shutdown of the main system. In general, the units can be air- or water-cooled, capacities can range from 0.5 to 5 tons and they can be wheeled or ceiling-mounted. Costs can range from $600 to more than $12,000 per unit. So, whether for a temporary fix or a permanent addition, portable units in data centers are a cool idea.


2.  Temperature Control Efficiency Can Maximize Return

I'm Justin Smith, managing editor of web development for Building Operating Management magazine. Today's tip: more efficient airflow management in data centers. Better air management has the potential to improve temperature control for more reliable server cooling. Follow these guidelines when analyzing server temperatures:

• Use a simple, reliable thermometer, not laser guns. They measure surface temperatures and not the air's "ambient" temperature

• Take the server air inlet temperature with a thermometer as close as possible to the server grill inlet without touching any surfaces. Conversely, server outlet temperatures should be taken as close as possible to the server without touching any surfaces

• Inlet and outlet temperatures should be taken at the same level for the same server

• Readings should be taken from servers in a mix of locations, including the beginning, middle and end of the aisle and bottom, middle and top of cabinets

• Readings should be taken from several aisles, not just one or two; and

• Measurements should be taken from several hot spots

3.  Find Allies to Win Funding for Facility Projects

Today's tip has to do with winning top management approval for facility projects.

Gaining funding for a project is a challenge all managers face. Top management has to weigh projects from across the organization, then allocate financial support to the ones that will ultimately provide the most benefit to the entire organization.

One way to improve the case for a facility project is to show that it will provide direct benefits to other departments or business units. For example, if the facility manager wants to upgrade aging parking lot lights, energy savings may only be one benefit. By talking to other managers or the human resources department, the facility manager may be able to show that the dim, yellow light from old fixtures makes employees who work late nervous as they walk out to their cars.

Similarly, it may seem obvious to the facility manager that an unreliable generator in a hospital or a Tier 1 data center needs to be replaced. But if the proposal to replace the generator has the support of the head of medicine or of IT, it stands a much better chance of being approved.

There are plenty of other examples, ranging from new HVAC equipment that will save energy and reduce maintenance costs while addressing employee complaints about comfort to a new access control system that may reduce liability while making employees feel safer. The key is to think broadly about the benefits of a facility project.

Taking that approach provides the facility manager with an ally in the battle for funds. It also shows top executives that the facility manager is taking a company-wide perspective, rather than simply looking at the needs of the facility department.

4.  Using Water to Cool a Data Center

If your data center is consistently running too hot, or if you're dealing with extra density from blade servers, you may not have much choice than to consider an in row cooling solution that uses water. Putting water in a data center goes against everything data center operators have been taught for years. But with skyrocketing heat loads, it's going to become more common.

One thing to keep in mind is the connections. Connections can range from a simple clear rubber tubing with hose clamps to threaded brass connections.

Also keep in mind how connections are routed under the floor. What if a fitting cracks or a pipe leaks? Are the shutoff valves easy to locate? Are the workers trained so they can quickly and easily shut a valve off? Are seal-tight electrical conduits used? If not, power connections won't be protected from leaks. And if a pipe does leak, can water easily flow to a drain, or will it be restrained by a mass of tubing and conduits, which could cause flooding.

For more on cooling, see the FaciliesNet Data Centers topic page.


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data center , cooling , portable , HVAC

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