DCK Guide to Data Center Containment

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A Best Practices Guide to Data Center Efficiency through Effective Airflow Management Strategies

This Data Center Knowledge article series will explore how to improve data center efficiency through containment and effective airflow management strategies. Data center operators understand how the growing demand for compute cycles, web-based applications and content are driving data centers to find new ways to keep power consumption in check. While doing so, enterprise data centers managers continue to struggle to add highly dense computing capacity in the same space. Data center airflow management cuts energy costs while enabling affordable, scalable, modular growth of compute pods in the facility. Rack or row-based containment is the best long-term approach to address a majority of these concerns.

A data center that examines the available containment approaches and aligns these with its infrastructure needs will secure the greatest efficiencies and the most benefit for IT and the business.

With most large data centers effectively employing some form of containment to address growing costs for electric¬ity and a static amount of power supply, containment has taken strong root in the data center floor plan.

What is Data Center Containment?

Though the two are related, data center contain¬ment has a different focus than data center cooling. While cooling uses resources such as CRAC/CRAH units to cool equipment in data center racks and rows, containment increases the efficiency of cooling approaches.

Data center containment applies barriers, components and methods to contain and direct air flow to keep hot and cold air from mixing in the envi¬ronment. Air mixing dilutes the cooling process by warming cool air intended to cool the equip¬ment and cooling hot air before it hits cooling equipment coils, reducing energy efficiency of the CRAC/CRAH units.

Containment directs hot air to air conditioning return ducts and cold air to equipment rack fronts (see Figure One). Separating hot and cold air enables cooling equipment to efficiently bring the hottest air down to a predetermined, appropriate temperature, lowering energy bills and eliminating the need for additional cooling equipment. The industry refers to this substantial difference between the supply and return air temperatures as the Delta T (ΔT).

For more information on understanding the Delta T see page 4 of the DCK Guide to Data Center Containment.

Over the next several weeks, I will explore the following areas in greater detail:

If you would prefer, you can download the complete Data Center Knowledge Guide to Data Center Containment in PDF form, courtesy of Eaton.

About the Author

Kevin Normandeau, is a veteran of the technology publishing industry having worked at a variety of technology sites including PC World; AOL Computing; Network World; Geek.com and International Data Group (IDG). Kevin lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons. When he is not in front of the computer (which is most of the time) he likes to get out to ski, hike and mountain bike.

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