Four Ways To Make Your Data Centre Cooler (In Every Sense)

Effective temperature management in your data centre can improve efficiency and cut your operating costs. Here are four principles to bear in mind while you’re trying to deal with data centre heat.

Air conditioning picture from Shutterstock

These suggestions emerged during a presentation at Data Centre World Asia-Pacific in Melbourne by Tony Gaunt and Steve Madara from Emerson Network Power. One key point? Data centre usage is intensifying and usage plans change rapidly, so you can’t assume that a single locked-in plan for cooling will work for the life of the centre. “We want flexible thermal management as we don’t know about future plans,” said Gaunt, who is the Asian region director for Emerson’s data centre business. “It’s complex, it’s dynamic, it’s really moving quickly. Everything’s changing. No longer are we building data centres with a 10 year vision. We’re building data centres to meet the needs of the next year.”

1. Contemplate higher operating temperatures

Data centre provisioning and heat management is often premised on the “worst weather day”, but you need to consider what that actually is in your specific location. For instance, in Sydney 86% of outdoor ambient temperatures are below 24 degrees. “If we want to, we have a huge opportunity on how much cooling we actually use,” Gaunt said. “The traditional data centre uses 38% of the power for cooling. There are technologies available today that can get that number well under 15%.”

2. Implement control systems to manage your needs

As that temperature data suggests, your needs for cooling won’t be constant. Make sure you can alter usage of cooling systems to reflect current conditions and that you make the right choices with technology. “Higher density, if you design it correctly, can actually be more efficient and lower cost on the thermal side,” Madara said.

3. Economise, but keep an eye on the future

Cost control is sensible, and you shouldn’t invest in technology that doesn’t have a clear value. “There’s no point in chasing a power usage effectiveness (PUE) reduction of .01 if it’s going to cost you $500,000 to do it,” Gaunt said.

At the same time, your choices shouldn’t limit future potential. “You don’t want to go and build a data centre today and not do all the rights things and then be asked by the CFO to squeeze more costs out.”

4. Monitor everything

Intelligent monitoring is “essential to verify your performance is real,” Gaunt said. Knowing how your system performs helps to anticipate issues and plan for future growth.

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