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Schneider Electric: The data center cool down

Wed 22 Mar 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

We have experienced an Australian summer almost like no other. We are braced for heat in this country, but it has rarely, if ever, been so sustained.

When you grow up in Australia, you are conditioned and drilled for extreme sunshine. The building sites empty once the temperature gauge hits 35 degrees or more, with workers being required by law to take a break of no less than 30 minutes.

Recently, the heatwave in Sydney caused inexorable demands on data centers and their cooling systems. Now that the weather has finally cooled, we have to ask ourselves as IT managers, did we do enough to install preventative measures?

Every year, without fail, IT managers will come under sustained pressure during the summer months to keep their data centers running in increased temperatures.

In the IT world, a data center is a vital artery that keeps the heart of the IT industry functioning even in demanding circumstances.

Whether it is a city that is monitoring its traffic activity, or a hospital practising life-saving surgery, they are all reliant on the data from our centres. It is not acceptable to wait until a heatwave to react when the system is under most pressure, there is too much at stake. Instead we need to take various steps preventatively.

Engineering an insurance policy

A data center contains intricate machinery, and like any finely tuned ecosystem it needs consistent looking after. Data Centers are not designed to run incessantly without any servicing, especially given the increasing demands placed upon them. An engineer should be an integral part of the data center’s team.

An engineer can help the IT manager to set up a regular maintenance schedule that will proactively eliminate many periods of downtime. In short, installing a regular engineer for the data center will act as an effective insurance policy when the Australian heatwaves eventually and inevitably come to fruition.

Self-diagnostics

We are living in an exciting period of time technologically. The capacity of machine learning increases every day, and the world we are living in is increasingly governed by self-diagnostics.

The latest data centers include functionality that allows them to report accurately on their own component status and in tandem with the aforementioned regular servicing, you can keep your data centers bolstered for any eventuality, even a severe heatwave.

By working closely with the aforementioned engineer, and utilising data center self-diagnostic you can stay closer to any potential system malfunctions.

Optimising your system

Like any high-performance piece of machinery, the key to getting the very most of a data center’s cooling system is adjusting to its capabilities.

Many data centers throughout Australia are using their cooling technology at less than its optimal capacity, wasting energy and wasting money on energy costs.

In most cases, the cooling technology in a data center does not need to run at its full capability. By working out the optimum temperature for a data center according to extended recommended operating IT inlet temperature envelope, a data center manager can save money by reducing how hard the cooling system is working.

After you have conducted regular servicing as part of your preventative maintenance strategy, you will understand from the engineer the optimum temperature your data center can run out at various periods of the year. By constantly optimising the system, it will be infinitely better prepared for any heatwave that may arrive.

You can set your watch to certain things in life, a heatwave arriving in Australia each summer is inevitably one of them. Each year, due to extreme heat there are power outages throughout the country.

Similarly, each year data center managers will experience sleepless nights in summer due to the heat and its anticipated consequences on power outages.

Data Centers can effectively deal with temperatures that go into the mid-40s, however, they will only sustain this performance if they have been effectively and well maintained.

The summer sun is seemingly over, and it appears that the heatwaves have gone, at least for another few months. Now the cooler temperature are here, there has never been a better time for data center managers to set up a preventative maintenance strategy in tandem with a qualified engineer.

The issue of combating heat waves for a data center are absolutely manageable, but only with adequate planning and strategies put in place.

Article by Andrew Kirker, General Manager, Data Centers Asia Pacific

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