Airflow Management and Colocation Centers

When deciding which colocation center you should invest your time and money in, there are plenty of factors to consider. The staff and on-site support, the power grid the facility works with and the results it yields, and the location and accessibility are all aspects that are usually at the top of the clients’ list to check out and approve. What doesn’t usually make the list, or even cross a potential client’s mind, is the facility’s airflow and how it is managed throughout the building.

Maintaining good airflow throughout an entire colocation facility is not always the easiest thing to do. In 2013, Upsite Technologies, known in the industry as the “pioneering company in airflow management solutions”, completed a survey of 45 computer rooms and discovered that an average of 48% of conditioned air was escaping the rooms from unsealed openings and misplaced perforated tiles. Many centers are very large, creating challenges in calculating airflow measure and capacity issues. The financial benefits to overcoming these obstacles, however, are worth the struggle. Upsite Technologies has stated that to realize the greater financial benefits from improving cooling capacity, changes need to be made in the cooling infrastructure. This includes changing set points, reducing fan speeds, and turning off cooling units.

Keeping Your Cool

Airflow management in data centers involves separating supply and return air masses, controlling room temperatures, and regulating air volumes. Many different tools are used to manage this including air dams, floor grommets, blanking panels, air ducts and diverters within cabinets, delivery fan system control, cabinet chimneys and associated airflow paths, aisle containment structures, and more. By using these tools correctly and successfully, fan energy costs can be reduced, increased volumes of cooling airflow delivered by perforated tiles can be created, higher chilling efficiencies can be established, and there can be improved protection again hot spots and IT equipment overheating. Other advantages include reduced operating expense, improved IT intake air temperatures and equipment reliability, the ability to cool more cabinets, and increased cooling unit efficiency and capacity.

Colocation providers work to ensure their centers are able to support large amounts of users and able to distribute data and information around the globe. This means creating an environment that is efficient and able to deliver the standard to perform at its best for the clients. This includes maintaining spaces that revolve around good airflow and room-level control. Retaining good airflow is a major problem in the industry and too often is written off as a minor inconvenience that will eventually be fixed. Instead the issue should be viewed from a broader perspective. Bypass airflow should be viewed as any cooling airflow volume that is greater than that of IT equipment airflow volume. If it is treated more than just an irritating “leak” or “hole” in the data center raised floor then numerous opportunities exist to calculate, understand, and save money in the long run.

Finances First

The client also can receive benefits from the center’s financial savings. The colocation provider will be able to add additional perforated tiles to the rooms without compromising raised floor static pressure. Monthly fees could be lowered, or the offer of larger rooms with more assurance quality could be established.

Airflow management plays a large part in keeping an entire colocation center running efficiently and reliably. Unfortunately it does not often receive the recognition or prioritization when people are deciding which center they should choose to have engaging service and house their business’s equipment. Owners need to acknowledge that by paying more attention to the airflow of their facility, they could entice more customers with additional equipment, more reliability, and a guarantee that they look after important details to inspire better service that may go unnoticed at other facilities. By representing state of the art practices, the client will be confident in the level of quality by the colocation provider.