Benefits of Data Center Containment

The data center is fraught with power and cooling challenges. For every 50 kW of power the data center feeds to an aisle, the same facilities typically apply 100-150 kW of cooling to maintain desirable equipment inlet temperatures. Most legacy data centers waste more than 60% of that cooling energy in the form of bypass air. This article is the 3rd in 5 part series on data center containment.

Data centers need more effective airflow manage¬ment solutions as equipment power densities increase in the racks. Five years ago the average rack power density was one to two kW per rack. Today, the average power density is four to eight kW per rack and some data centers that run high density applications are averaging 10 to 20 kW per rack.

The cost of electricity is rising in line with increasing densities. “The cost of electricity is about US$0.12/kWh for large users. The forecast is for a greater than 15-percent rise in cost per year over the next five years,” says Ian Bitterlin, Chief Technology Officer, ARK Continuity, UK.
Containment makes existing cooling and power infrastructure more effective. Using containment, the data center makes increasingly efficient use of the same or less cooling, reducing the cooling portion of the total energy bill. Data centers can even power down some CRAC units, saving utility and maintenance costs. Containment allows for lower cooling unit fan speeds, higher chilled water temperatures, decommissioning of redundant cooling units and increased use of free cooling. A robust containment solution can reduce fan energy consumption by up to 25-percent and deliver 20-percent energy savings at the cold water chiller, according to the U.S. EPA.

Containment makes running racks at high densities more affordable so that data centers can add new IT equipment such as blade servers. Data enter containment brings the power consumption to cooling ratio down to a nearly 1 to 1 match in kW consumed. It can save a data center approximately 30-percent of its annual utility bill (lower OpEx) without additional CapEx.

Containment Benefits
Vendors design containment solutions for fast, easy deployment and scalability for data center growth. Data center containment enables the creation of a high-capacity data center in a very short period of time (hours).

Containment enables IT professionals to build out in¬frastructure, data processing, and cooling loads in small, controlled building blocks as demand grows. This is more affordable than building the data center infrastructure to handle the maximum cooling and data processing load from day one, which is the traditional method. Contain¬ment increases its cost ef¬fectiveness as rack densities increase.

Data centers typically have more cooling capacity than the load requires. Still, this capacity does not cool equipment adequately. By raising the delta T, containment avoids the capital expense of adding more mechanical cooling. As you operate cooling under higher return temperatures, cooling becomes more efficient.

The smaller the percentage of total energy the data center uses to feed cooling, the greater the percentage of total energy it uses to feed IT equipment. This results in a lower PUE, which should be closer to a 1:1 ratio.

Standardization is an operational benefit of containment. Vendors engineer containment into building blocks so that as the data center grows, he enterprise simply adds more uniform pods. Containment reliability and integrity derive from design redundancy that mitigates the downside risk of cooling system failures.

Containment aligns with the enterprise by offering a low TCO including low and progressive acquisition costs, quick time to deploy, and lower operational and maintenance costs. Maintenance costs grow only as the data center adds containment pods.

To read the entire series of articles on data center containment in a PDF format, click here to download the complete Data Center Knowledge Guide to Data Center Containment, courtesy of Eaton, Wrightline.

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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; 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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