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When it comes time to increase your data center's cooling capacity, you have two basic options: Either build/renovate a structure or use a containerized system, which is completely self-contained and simply needs space. Both ways have their pluses and minuses. Construction offers more room for equipment to be serviced, better security and protection from the elements. Containerized solutions are cheaper and provide more flexibility when it comes to ramping up capacity. As demand for cooling increases, containerized solutions offer a way to quickly scale capacity without having to either wait for new construction to be complete or overbuilding from the beginning. Containers can be easily added — or removed — at any time to match with current demands.
Management software allows for oversight of everything from room management to security, building control to power, cooling to CPU load. The software packages can offer data gathering, monitoring and automation for the center overall and each individual subsystem. Traditionally, each system required its own application, with a dashboard being used to tie everything together. Now, data center managers can quickly and easily see the complete picture of the data center to help inform their decisions. Integrated software also allows for the "whole building" perspective when it comes to data center decisions.
The security of data in a data center is a top priority during the planning, design and implementation stages. Physical security is important as well, and is often overlooked or handed off to be part of building security. A good data center-specific security system not only protects equipment, but can provide warnings about environmental dangers such as extreme temperatures or out-of-range humidity and even give advance notice of equipment failure. Cameras and wireless options add even more flexibility.
An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is the cornerstone of any data center's reliability. If the main power goes out, the UPS take over until the backup generators can take the load. When looking at a UPS, there are a couple things to keep in mind. First, don't just size the system to meet your current load. Installing a UPS that can scale up to 150 or 200 percent of the current load will allow for future expansion, as well as protect against additional loads when equipment is using the UPS. Second, make sure the battery capacity is appropriate. If a piece of data center equipment only has to stay powered on long enough to shut down, it doesn't need nearly as much battery capacity as a critical component.
Server racks are the basic building block of data centers. Like building blocks, they can be treated as modular units during design and construction phases; changing the layout of racks is generally cheaper and easier than changing the infrastructure after a construction project begins. But, they do have their own requirements that have to be met. In addition to the power required for the rack itself, it has to have a power system that can provide the necessary power for the individual servers. Cables should be run to and from the rack in a way that allows for clean, compact bundling and management. And in hot aisle/cold aisle cooling configurations, blanking panels should be used to help manage air flow.
Between the power needed to run the computer equipment itself and the energy used to heat and cool it, data centers can be intensive users of energy. "In a data center, energy typically is the highest cost," says Dale Sartor, a staff engineer with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a Department of Energy National Lab.
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