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Leading contributing factors to data center cooling problems

By Donna Donnowitz
August 20, 2014

Both widespread and localized cooling issues can increase a facility's energy use and total cooling costs. Likewise, long-term cooling problems pose a threat to a data center's performance. The industry is hard at work to develop new technology, but cooling failures can still be caused by human error or system design flaws. Data centers can best reduce chances of cooling errors by supplementing high-end cooling technology with detailed analysis of system performance.

Vulnerabilities to overcooling
Overcooling in a data center points toward many areas of inefficiency. Many data centers attempt to keep servers at the lowest possible temperature, but this strategy may overburden your cooling systems and create an uncomfortable work environment for employees, says Processor. Experts recommend using a heat load calculator to quantify a data center's cooling needs and correct cooling system settings accordingly.

Overcooling may also be a result of empty rack space. The presence of neutral space interferes with system airflow and can contribute to a hotspot, forcing cooling systems to work harder. This potential problem also draws attention to the importance of maximizing the efficiency of system architectures beyond storage capacity.

Poor rack architecture
The use of computer room air conditioners to create a hot/cold aisle airflow is a popular solution but will cause efficiency problems if executed incorrectly. It's easy to make mistakes when orienting CRAC direction or facing racks in conflicting directions, warns Data Center Knowledge. Another common mistake in rack arrangement is orienting the stacks in a way that intake sides are covered or blocked. Addressing these problems simply requires an eye for detail and a firm understanding of the principles of airflow and cold aisle design.

Humidification failure
Humidity control is essential for data center management. Condensation can corrode physical hardware and contribute to electrical failures, while insufficient humidity puts the system at risk of damage from static discharge damage. Loss of humidity control may be a simple issue of a poorly calibrated sensor. Facilities can respond to this problem by installing humidity sensors to optimize humidity control points and utilizing console servers to facilitate quick response times to abrupt changes in humidity. CRAC arrangement can contribute to humidity control issues as well. The system will fall prey to humidity problems if one fan's placement affects the temperature reading of another fan.

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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