Playing it cool

Steve Sutcliffe
By Steve Sutcliffe
If there’s an unsung IT hero of our modern age, it has to be the data centre.
Playing it cool

They are without question the powerhouses of the digital world, working away behind the scenes to keep the world running smoothly, housing the often highly complex computer systems and network support hardware required to keep organisations of all shapes and sizes operational.

Every organisation has one – whatever its size or scale. Some of the largest data centres use as much electricity as a small town to keep the systems they support operational, and as much as 35% of this energy can be required to prevent overheating and maintain the recommended temperature range of 21–24 °C. An efficient data centre is the lifeblood of any organisation, which means that keeping it operational and minimising power outages is key.

Lights out

You may be surprised to learn that despite the emergence of ever more efficient and expensive cooling equipment, thermal issues still account for approximately a third of unplanned data centre outages. In fact, it continually comes to light that data centre managers aren’t doing enough to reduce the risk to business that unplanned outages bring.

An ongoing survey into UK data centre cooling, conducted by thermal risk experts EkkoSense, analysed some 128 UK data centre halls and over 16,500 racks to reveal that the current average data centre cooling utilisation level is just 34%. The survey blamed poor thermal compliance across data centres not on the lack of cooling capacity, but on the continued poor management of airflow and a failure to actively monitor and report rack temperatures.

James Kirkwood, EkkoSense’s Head of Operations, commented: “Clearly it’s unacceptable from both a risk management and a green perspective to maintain such low levels of cooling utilisation, however it’s difficult for data centres to adopt a more pro-active thermal management strategy if they have no way of knowing that all their data centre equipment is actually thermally compliant.

“With our survey also revealing that less than 5% of UK data centre M&E teams currently actively monitor and report temperature on an individual rack-by-rack basis – and even fewer conduct any formal cooling resilience tests – it’s clear that organisations have a long way to go if they’re to successfully achieve their thermal compliance goals.”

Knowledge is power

One option for data centre managers is to bring in Building Energy Management software (BEMS), which would enable them to gather relevant energy performance stats and closely monitor energy performance within their data centre. Having this information at their fingertips would not only enable them to manage energy performance more effectively, but would also highlight particular areas that are at risk from overheating, allowing them to make adjustments to reduce the risk of power outages and create a more efficient and environmentally sustainable data centre.

The scalability of BEMS means that it can work as effectively across multiple sites as it can on a single data centre, bringing together performance stats from a range of sources for analysis and use in informing management and investment decisions. BEMS gives you an intelligent energy monitoring system that can capture and collate data across a number of areas into a single dashboard that will help you see, quickly and easily, where changes need to be made. And the software is capable of integrating with existing Building Energy Management systems, too, to give you even more advanced energy management capabilities. 

So if you’re experiencing regular power outages in your data centre, or have issues with overheating, BEMS could well give you the solution you’re looking for. Our team understands the importance and complexities of energy management and thrives on taking away energy performance headaches to help you keep your organisation running smoothly. Talk to us today to find out more.

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