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By John Sommers, P.E.
HVAC Article Use Policy
Computer servers and data-storage requirements are expanding in institutional and commercial facilities, thanks to increasing amounts of data, as well as growing demands for access to critical data at any time from anywhere. This demand for instant access makes maintenance and engineering schedules tighter and downtime for maintenance unacceptable.
The trend in facilities also will be toward having more copies of the same data in multiple locations, which further fuels the demand for computing and data storage. While this demand is growing, private and public entities will continue to maintain onsite facilities and will need to be confident their valuable information is safe at offsite facilities as well.
The decision of where the computing and data storage will reside falls to information officers. But maintaining the support systems falls to maintenance and engineering departments. Technicians must monitor the performance of HVAC, power, security, communications, and fire-protection systems to ensure systems operate reliably and efficiently.
Large data centers and third-party hosting services have higher expectations for service and performance, and they tend to come with ample maintenance budgets and knowledgeable staff to meet the challenges of increasing uptime.
Conversely, managers with facilities that have small- to mid-size data centers are often challenged with limited budgets and staff. Exploding demand for computing and storage often is not discussed with the facilities staff, resulting in reactionary responses.
The major challenges for managers include identifying the maintenance and operating issues technicians must address to keep the systems operating reliably and meeting increasing regulatory demands for higher efficiency.
In any data center the mechanical cooling and electrical power systems are essential for proper operation and reliability. Within each system are myriad data-related maintenance issues that can reduce the facilities uptime.
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