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Efficient air flow is a boon for data centers

By Max Burkhalter
December 1, 2014

Computer servers generate tons of heat and quickly warm up the surrounding air inside the data center. This phenomena begins to raise the temperature of data facilities, making the interior of a data center unlivable for IT experts and inefficient for data center hardware. One solution key to preventing this common data center problem is integrating air flow strategies into data center organization. An air flow-friendly design will help to reduce the risk of data center equipment overheating and help prevent the building's heating and cooling appliances from working overtime. A consistent airflow helps to make data center interiors more comfortable as well. Read on to discover how an improved air flow strategy could improve your facility.

Mixing air compromises efficiency
The primary strategy of directing airflow in the data center is to prevent hot air and cool air from mixing - cooling appliances are forced to work even harder when competing with the heat generated by nearby server stacks. The Department of Energy recommends employing a containment strategy to separate cool and hot air flows into their own channels. This strategy minimizes the amount of energy being spent on cooling the interior, reducing energy consumption of fans by up to 20 percent. Proper hot/cool aisle management is an important air flow strategy, but not the only one.

Small adjustments improve circulation
IT staff commonly place down tactical obstructions to create channels for hot and cold aisles. Less strategically placed obstructions, however, will merely hinder the efficient airflow of a data facility. IT staff should take care in recognizing how every piece of equipment in the building impacts air flow. Facilities Net recommended several small adjustments that go a long way toward steady circulation. Filling up empty server cabinets, for instance, prevents circulating air from becoming trapped inside small spaces. Deploying multiple strategies for better circulation will help keep operating expenses for data centers more affordable.

New gear expands organization options
Sometimes the removal of obstructions is not enough to maximize the airflow of a data facility. Achieving a steady airflow and proper separation of cool/hot aisles takes time, and sometimes requires IT staffs to make to make significant changes to their data center's interior layout. Thankfully, the latest tools like fiber to Ethernet converters make it easier to organize equipment in the data center. Given more possibilities for mixing and matching of copper wires with fiber-optic cables, IT teams can now arrange equipment without fretting over loss of network performance.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160 km.


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