An Umbrella for Server Racks?


An example of a Turtle Shell covering to protect data center equipment from water damage.

Most data center managers would agree that when you have water dripping through the ceiling of your data center, you already have a huge problem. A company called Turtle Shell Industries is marketing a product to provide the last line of defense in this worrisome scenario.

The product consists of a lightweight polycarbonate shell placed over racks and cabinets to protect it from overhead leaks and debris, and comes with pull-down curtains that can be extended for additional protection for IT equipment. A motorized curtain is available for facilities that are monitored remotely, so they can be deployed without staff on site. The Turtle Shell FAQ says the unit can be customized, but doesn’t specifically address how fire suppression might be handled.

Many data center operators seek to manage risk of water damage by limiting the number of penetrations in roof membranes, or perhaps by seeking a dry climate during site selection. Most of the instances of water-related disruptions have been from floods rather than ceiling leaks. Examples include the 2007 outage at a T-Mobile data center near Seattle, the flooding in Istanbul last fall and the water main break in Dallas earlier this year. Here’s a video providing an overview of the product. This runs about 4 minutes, 30 seconds.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Looks like a nice heat trap as well. And the cabinet arrangement and gaps appear to ignore all the rules of air flow and heat transfer. Seems water might be the least of the concerns in this data center.

  2. Robert – That is an excellent point and thanks for the feedback. Heat transfer and airflow are major concerns and both variables are incorporated in to the design and positioning of the turtle shell® (distance from the top of the equipment to the lowest point of the shell). There is a direct correlation between the height of the shell to the amount of water protection it offers – imagine walking in the rain with an umbrella positioned 4’ over your head – it wouldn’t do much good. In areas where heat transfer and the risk of equipment overheating are a concern we design a custom shell and in coordination with facility engineers, equipment manufacturer representatives and turtle shell® engineers we measure, monitor and re-measure temperature and airflow to ensure the turtle shell® installation will not compromise the equipment it is protecting. If you would like more information feel free to call me at (212) 904-1117.

  3. Bill Hen

    I would think the management would look into air flow and heat transfer before they purchased and installed the equipment. These are big issues in any data center.

  4. Dan

    my first thought was 'well there goes the last line of defense against fire' (e.g. overhead sprinkler systems).

  5. Shyam

    I dont understand, why one should allow water to dip on server rack. The building should be water proofed. please give your reply

  6. Hi, we are the largest healthcare provider in Pakistan, having 84 acres purpose built campus. We want similar solution to protect our Data Center. Please contact me so that I can provide more data on this. thanks Rizwan Karim Facilities Engineer Aga Khan University, Karachi