Don’t get burned – Quick tips to ensure your data centre is safe

At TAB, we’re continually called upon by data centre managers to help solve cooling issues in their facilities. Thermal management is a simple problem in a complex environment, and as every situation is different, there is no one “right way” carved in stone. Over the years, however, we’ve established a number of points to keep in mind so you can beat the heat.

  1. Know Your Equipment: It is essential to understand the technology. Does it have front-to-back, side-to-side or top-to-bottom airflow requirements? For instance, devices with extensive back-panel connections may need side-to-side airflow for cooling, which means special rack space requirements.
  2. Hot Aisle/Cold Aisle Configuration: Keep your hot air hot and your cold air cold using the hot aisle/cold aisle floor layout. Simply put, enclosures face each other creating one aisle with cold air in front of the enclosures and one with hot air behind the enclosures. This way you separate the hot air from the cold air and effectively prevent air mixing, stopping hot air from flowing into the front of the servers in the next row.
  3. Aisle Spacing: For optimal airflow, as well as safe and easy service access, leave enough room between racks so that you can walk down both hot and cold aisles.
  4. Raise Your Cooling Capacity: It is recommended that you increase your cooling capacity by 10 to 15 percent per rack. Remember, you want the ability to lower the temperature of the equipment, not just maintain it.
  5. Cable Management: Appropriate management of data and network cables is key. Use racks with plenty of room for cable runs. Cables can obstruct airflow, so keep them neat and bundled to the side.
  6. No Solid Doors: Glass doors may add to the aesthetics of the data centre, but they, as well as any solid door option, can turn your rack into an oven. Air MUST be allowed to enter to cool the equipment.
  7. Blanking Panels: Don’t forget to use blanking panels in open U spaces in the front of the rack. This will prevent hot air from recirculating from the back into the front of the equipment, providing a significant drop in the inlet temperature.
  8. Effective Raised Floor Design: Under-tile static pressure and local airflow can be affected simply by cutting oversized holes for cable runs. So cut with caution and use brushes or other airflow obstructers around wiring holes.
  9. Minimize Airflow Obstructions: Be aware that local airflow can be affected by air dams created by chilled water piping and cable trays underneath the raised floor. It may be wise to consider overhead cable management options which are typically less expensive and more flexible than under floor solutions
  10. Track Your Temperature: A simple thermometer may do, but given the increased heat densities it is better to deploy a series of sensors throughout the data centre or a thermal management system that monitors the internal enclosure environment.
  11. Perform Audits: Obtain regular audits to determine your cooling capacity and requirements. This is particularly important if you are moving to a higher density configuration.

-Jonathan Batten is the National Sales Manager for TAB Canada. TAB provides technical environment solutions for the data centre: specifically with regards to cable, thermal and power management issues.. Over nearly a decade, Batten has been involved in countless TAB projects in every major city from coast to coast.

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