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The Power to be Cool

Think about it. For every $1 you spend on computing equipment and services, you probably spend another $1 for the power and cooling to keep that equipment running.

The Growing IT and Facilities
Management Partnership

If you are charged with planning and running today's Server Room/Data Center, you know that it's imperative you get facilities management involved.

Working with them helps you manage an operation focused on being green and energy-efficient. Essentially, facility management is about power, cooling and fire protection, and also, where Data Centers are concerned, physical access controls - in short the environment where servers operate.

A facility manager has a complete overview of a building and its current and planned future uses - something your IT staff probably lacks. It can be a trusted partner when it comes to dealing with power and cooling considerations. They can help with the planning and layout to help you make the most of your resources.

Facilities management professionals can help IT calculate the amount of power that must be supplied in a Server Room/Data Center and how much cooling capacity is needed to remove the resulting heat. At the same time, it can help IT plan for the how it will impact on people and the office layout throughout a building.  Information like this is clearly invaluable for the IT department. Thus it is essential the two departments to communicate regularly.

By forming a partnership with your facilities team when planning the layout of your data center, you will get expertise that can be invaluable in your efforts to ensure the facility will be practical to run, and as green and energy efficient, as possible. 

In fact, a 2007analysis of Data Center costs by Emerson Network Power found that you spend an astonishing 38% of your combined computing equipment and power/cooling dollars on cooling alone.

It's no wonder that in a survey of Data Center User Group members, 83% said power and heat were in their Top 3 concerns (others were availability (52 percent), and space constraints/growth (45 percent). Obviously, you want that to change.

You know if you have to reconfigure your power and cooling every time there is an advance in computing and networking technology (e.g. blade servers) or every time your mission requirements change, you will never deliver an adequate ROI.

For example, if a UPS module is only compatible with other UPS modules of the exact same size, scalability will occur in rigidly defined increments. A UPS system that is compatible with other UPS modules of varying capacities provides greater flexibility in how growth is managed. UPS modules should also support reconfiguration to add redundancy, or change the type of redundancy being employed, to support higher levels of availability.

You Must Adapt
Virtualization, blade servers, high-density communications switches, business continuity and the convergence of voice and data are all driving change. No matter the size of your Server Room/Data Center, you are faced with the challenge of creating facilities with a 20 year lifespan when technology changes and refreshes every 3-5 years.

You are looking for solutions that are scalable and adaptable to effectively power and cool the high-density blade servers being deployed today. At the same time you must look to the future to the next technology.

So, while you are creating facilities that make the most of current cooling technologies, you can keep one eye on the future by supplementing these systems with adaptive cooling technologies. According to the Uptime Institute's “A Flexible Approach to Protecting IT System Availability” white paper, the “adaptive, hybrid approach provides a cost-effective, energy-efficient solution to the requirements of today's  systems while enabling the flexibility to adapt to whatever the future brings.”

Controlling energy consumption and costs are critical as IT pros face the dual challenge of delivering services while eliminating operational bottlenecks in the Server Room environment.

Adaptive cooling principles provide new and existing facilities a roadmap for dealing with heat densities that are increasing unpredictably and unevenly. Adaptive cooling provides maximum flexibility and scalability with the lowest cost of ownership while maintaining or improving availability.  And it provides scalable, reliable and efficient cooling that deal with the issue of density growth.

According to Uptime, “these requirements can be achieved by optimizing cooling infrastructure and carefully selecting the two components of adaptive cooling: traditional under-floor cooling and supplemental cooling.”

Smaller Rooms, Big Considerations
Choosing the right cooling infrastructure is greatly influenced by the size of your Server Room/Data Center.

Today water and refrigerants are making a “cooling comeback” to cool server racks directly. Also new modular fully enclosed server systems that frequently use liquid
cooling are now on the market.

And when it comes to large Data Centers there are other options including outside air economizers to limit the need for chillers or air conditioning units. According to Server Watch, these monitor the internal and external environmental conditions and decide what proportion of outside air can be used to achieve optimum cooling efficiency.

When it comes to cooling smaller Server Rooms, the white paper by J. Kippland Kiger from G. Blackmon & Associates “Application Considerations for Cooling Small Computer and Server Rooms”, specifically addresses the issue.  Here are a few things to keep in mind according to Kiger:

* Unlike common commercial comfort air conditioning systems, precision air conditioning units are designed to run continually, require little maintenance, and provide precise control of temperature and humidity. Standard air conditioners quickly lose efficiency and break under continual operation.
* Compare the price based on the amount of sensible cooling capacity.
* Compare price based on the same sensible capacity at the same entering conditions and not just “two-ton versus two-ton.” For example lower tonnage precision
air conditioning system will probably match the higher tonnage comfort unit for most applications.
* Think about access. Small precision ceiling units, which are designed for one-side only service access and filter replacement, utilize tight room space more efficiently. Multi-side access for service restricts where units can be placed.
* Take into account condensate pump power, drains and alarms. Does the unit have its own power or require an additional power feed that increases overall installation costs? Does an alarm system detect an overflow or simply let water overflow on to the floor? Can the system be shut down remotely?

According to Kiger, “the fact is precision air conditioning systems are designed specifically to cool electronic equipment. Their high sensible heat ratio and continuous-duty design makes them ideal for small computer rooms and closets. They also include a number of features that simplify and reduce installation cost. Consequently, precision cooling units are almost always a more effective and cost efficient choice.”

These are just a few considerations when thinking about the power needed to be cool. But there are more. Learn more about power and cooling requirements in white papers that delve into the bits and bytes of different power and cooling technologies found at http://www.liebert.com/servicesupport_pages/WhitePapers.aspx