There are constantly new technological developments put in place in data centres, with the aim of improving efficiency, lowering costs, becoming more environmentally friendly and, of course, protecting servers to the highest degree possible. So, let’s dig a little bit deeper just how data centre design and specification is changing to keep up with increasing global demand…
Challenges and trends with regards to data centre cooling
One of the main challenges faced in the data centre industry today is the fact that power density is increasing and it is becoming unpredictable at the same time. The industry projections definitely indicate that there is a great level of uncertainty when it comes to power density requirements. Nevertheless, new data centres have a duty to match these requirements for at least ten years. This again showcases a huge problem because IT changes year on year and therefore so will the power usage. What this demonstrates is that there is an essential need for adaptable system designs that can be altered in order to cool high-density racks that could be isolated cases.
In addition to this, there is also the issue that data centres have to adapt to ever-changing requirements. Because of the fact that loads are constantly changing it makes it very difficult to know if your cooling system is sufficient enough or whether it needs to be changed. In turn, this means that the next cooling system requirements must result in a system whereby you can cool a new load with quickness and ease. You won’t have to embark on extensive and complicated planning and construction.
What other challenges are indicating essential cooling requirements for the next generation of data centres? Well, there is the issue of air mixing. At present, there is the problem that exhaust air and supply air end up mixing and thus the return air temperature to the CRAC unit is lowered whilst the supply air temperature to the IT equipment is raised. The only way data centres can combat this at present is by setting the CRAC units to provide extremely cold air. But this leads to a further problem in the form of bad cooling performance. This showcases that the next generation of data centres need to offer systems whereby the mixing of supply air and exhaust air at the IT equipment is minimised.
And finally, the last issue to take into account is the fact that it is very hard to optimise capital investment and available space because the system requirements are very tough to predict and this results in the system often being bigger than necessary. This showcases that there is a need for modular systems that actually grow with the requirement of the data centre.
Green data centres and energy monitoring tools
We have also noticed a number of different changes and trends with regards to energy consumption in data centres. Typically, a data centre will use a large amount of energy. However, data centre design firms are looking for ways to lower this. This includes blocking off all rack space that is not being used, as well as increasing the efficiency of Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) systems.
Finally, it is advisable to make the most of the tools that are available for energy monitoring. How are you going to know how your data centre is performing in terms of energy use if you don’t have any idea regarding the quantity of energy you are utilising? These tools are highly beneficial, determining where you can be more energy efficient and where energy is being wasted.
So there you have it; some of the main trends and challenges when it comes to data centres today. Were you aware of the complexities that data centre managers have to face, or has this come as somewhat of a surprise?