Counterintuitive advice of the day - run your data center hot and humid

Console management can help organizations raise the temperatures in the data center without as much risk.

By Max Burkhalter
November 30, 2012
Yes, the idea doesn't make any sense. And yes, years of observation in IT circles decry the practice. But running your data center at slightly higher temperatures than normal can offer immense benefits from a sustainability and cost perspective.

A recent Network Computing report analyzing a Green Grid whitepaper explained that data center operators stand to gain substantially from turning the temperature up and cutting off the humidifiers and dehumidifiers that maintain supposedly peak environmental conditions in the data center.

The temperature myth
The Green Grid, along with ASHRAE and other leading industry organizations, explained that the need to run computers and servers at cool temperatures is, to a certain extent, a myth. While there is still some risk in letting temperatures climb, the reality is that safe operational temperatures are generally much higher than what most people have thought for a long time, Network Computing reported.

Temperature-related risks
The theory behind raising data center temperatures is simple. Hardware is much less expensive than it has been and it suddenly costs more to keep servers cool than it does to buy new ones. All you have to do is adjust the thermostat and you have instant savings. There is just one major problem - hot spots become melting zones.

Data centers generally develop hot spots from airflow limitations and server operational problems that can be resolved through effective facility and infrastructure management. If you want to turn the overall temperature up in the data center, you have to evaluate how that change will impact any hot spots within the facility. If you already have a problem with certain areas becoming so hot that it creates a safety hazard, raising the temperature may not be a good idea. If you don't have any problems of that sort, you can probably get away with increasing the temperature of the data center, but you have to be prepared to deal with any potential hot spots that emerge.

If temperatures across the data center are higher, hot spots can develop and escalate more rapidly. As a result, IT has to be more responsive. Having console management systems in place can pay dividends in this area by allowing IT managers to control various facets of a data center remotely. This allows them to take action eliminating the hot spot, or moving virtual machines off of servers within a hot spot, to avoid data loss and minimize the impact of heat-related problems.

Perle’s wide range of 1 to 48 port Perle Console Servers provide data center managers and network administrators with secure remote management of any device with a serial console port. Plus, they are the only truly fault tolerant Console Servers on the market with the advanced security functionality needed to easily perform secure remote data center management and out-of-band management of IT assets from anywhere in the world.


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