STEPS TO IMPROVE THE EFFICIENCY OF AIRFLOW MANAGEMENT IN DATA CENTER
What do you mean by airflow management?
Considering the growing importance of data centers, organizations are focusing on their operation to ensure a smooth and hassle-free set-up. However, data center operation is not a simple task. It requires a lot of planning and effort to manage it efficiently especially the part with airflow management when the focus is to optimize a data center for efficiency.
A glimpse at Airflow management and its offering
The functional aspect of the airflow management strategy is to isolate hot and cold airstreams by positioning all the cabinets in parallel rows with the inlet sides of the servers while facing each other across an aisle (this forms a cold aisle). This marks the initial phase of airflow management where the mixing of the thermal environment within the data center ecosystem is prevented. Also, the process can be empowered with customized airflow management solutions designed to cater to specific data center requirements.
Often more cooling capacity is added to the data center facility when it becomes too warm. Although this practice ensures that the data center maintains proper temperature but it is not a recommended way to handle such thermal issues. Well-planned airflow management ensures that the facility maintains a proper temperature throughout its operation. This can save both power and money for the organization.
Strategies of Air Flow Management
Strategic yet simple efforts can improve the airflow dynamics of a data center. Planned airflow management can decrease inlet temperatures while increasing the CRAC (computer room air conditioner) efficiency. Since data center operational capabilities vary from each other, it is essential to first determine and understand the operating model of a data center before offering an airflow management solution that can be effective. Here, it is also pertinent to consider the best practices to improve the overall energy efficiency.
Logical and customized approach
We at Netrack offer a scientific approach in managing the cold air to enter into mission-critical equipment of the data center and hot air back into CRAC to minimize the chance of short circuit or outage. The strategic solution we offer enables the airflow management to bifurcate into five zones covering all aspects to offer a comprehensive solution to our clients
To reduce the leakage due to floor tiles with irregular shapes, Netrack came up with brushed tiles as a solution. Due to its smooth edges, it nullifies the chance of airflow leakage increasing the efficiency of the airflow management.
Additionally, as a strategy to improve the airflow management of a data center, we believe in securing all cabinets with Plinth, Rack Side Thermal Sealing with air seal kit, and Blanking Panels between the equipment. This forces the cold air to pass only through the equipment.
Again, blanking panels is another strategy to reduce hot and cold air mixing by preventing airflow to the unused cabinet and rack space.
The data center design engineers and teams come across challenges related to data center cooling capacity. When the existing system fails to maintain a certain temperature to ensure the proper functioning of the equipment, the facility needs additional cooling capacity. However, in such scenarios, it is essential to identify the root cause of the problem.
Apart from insufficient cooling capacity, poor airflow management can also be a key cause of failure to maintain a specific temperature. Hence, it is crucial to strategize a way to enhance the efficiency of airflow management within the data center environment. This can optimize the airflow while reducing the wastage of energy.
Avoid putting servers at risk
The data center equipment takes cold air from the front side and exhausts the hot air from the rear. Now, that hot air is then removed by an air-handling unit (AHU). Here the bypass airflow supplying cold air does not lead to any productive cooling, rather it mixes up with the hot air before returning to the AHU. This creates a problem with the airflow management increasing the data center temperature and reducing its cooling capacity. So, we at Netrack offer a permanent solution using Blanking panels, Plinth, and Brush tile to eliminate the chance of mixing hot and cold air.
Blanking Panel and its impact on improving the airflow management
A Blanking Panel is a type of panel used in the data center to optimize airflow management. It is also popularly known as filler panels or rack spacers that are installed in IT racks to maintain appropriate airflow and eventually temperature. They are available in many sizes.
It effectively reduces the mixing of hot and cold air by preventing airflow to the unused section of the cabinet and rack space. A rack or cabinet in a data center without blanking panels can lead to improper cooling and eventually thermal inefficiency. Also, after choosing an appropriate rack for the data center, one can add a brush module on top, bottom as well as side panels with an air seal kit.
NetRack designed a tool-less blanking panel to further simplify the process of installation and uninstallation as compared to traditional blanking panels that come along with screws.
- Highly effective
- Easy to install
- Compatible with any racks or rails
- Stored easily
- Durable and lightweight
- RoHS compliant
How plinth can add to the efficiency!
The Plinth is a platform that supports a structure and evenly distributes weight and load. In a data center environment, the plinth is used to secure cabinets and racks. The plinth designed by NetRack is a powder-coated rack accessory formed of good quality steel. It comes in different dimensions to choose from, depending on the rack size in use.
Apart from adding stability to the data center racks in the long term, it plays a crucial role in improving the airflow between critical equipment hence, enhancing the aspect of data center cooling. The elevation due to the plinth forces the cold air to pass only through the equipment while the hot air released moves out through the chimney above the false ceiling and plain door blocks. Also, rack elevation ensures equipment safety from water and other factors.
- Equipment stability
- Improved airflow
- Conversion of Point load to Uniformly Distributed load
- Equipment protection
Brush tile – its role in airflow management
Brush tile is a standard raised floor made of 2X2 feet tiles that are installed on a grid frame to reduce the chance of airflow leakage. Due to its smooth edges, it nullifies the chance of cold air leakage increasing the efficiency of the airflow management.
NetRack offers such ready-to-use brush tiles of high quality that can replace traditional floor tiles with irregular shapes leading to cold air leakage. Since the brush tiles are ready to use it eliminates the chance of causing pollution within the data center due to tile cutting. Also, the cables can stay secured under the brush tile.
- Reduces cold air leakage
- Eliminates pollution
- Eliminates the chance of cable damage
- Easy relocation of tile
Effective airflow management with NetRack
Data is critical hence it needs to sustain longer than the system itself. So, data centers are becoming the hub of efficiency and robustness. Therefore, its maintenance in terms of airflow management also plays a crucial role in enhancing the overall adeptness of the data center.
Criticality of airflow management
With there is a growing need for increasing the capacity of data centers, there is also need to accommodate more server racks. Hence, the cables need to be managed efficiently to increase the competence of the airflow management of a data center. To gain clarity, the use of airflow management in a data center ensures that the air temperature and pressure are maintained, and any significant variation is prevented from protecting equipment from thermal damage. Now, if the cables are not appropriately managed and zip-tied together, it can disrupt airflow. This happens especially when the cable bundle gets larger since they need more space to increase airflow. This, in turn, can lower the equipment fan’s efficiency and change the pressure in the rack resulting in equipment damage.
Typically, in a data center server room, cables run both under the floor as well as overhead. The underfloor space through which the cables pass, the cold air passes too. With additional server racks, more cutouts are drilled on the floor, causing the hot and cold air to mix. In such a scenario, one option is that the data center can use underfloor space for air system management and overhead space for cable management. But this can at times increase pressure variation causing pressure on the equipment fans. We at Netrack understand the need for a comprehensive solution that will be proactive enough to ensure efficient cable and airflow management. The following are few solutions we recommend.
Importance of Cold and Hot Aisle Containment
One of the most effective solutions we offer is Cold and Hot AisleContainment to manage airflow efficiently and Avoid Cold Hot Air mixing. The Cold Aisle Containment (CAC) solution contains the cold air and ensures the cold air is entering only the equipment.
- Rack-level cooling
- Ideal for Higher loads
- Minimize hot and cold air mixing
- Easy to implement
In the Hot Aisle Containment, we will contain Hot air. We recommend Hot aisle containment for a small data center where the number of racks is less and Cold Aisle containment for large data centers with several racks and cabinets. Hot Aisle Containment (HAC) channel the exhaust air in such a way as to prevent hot air from affecting the rest of the room.
- Cost-effective solution
- Improve efficiency and cooling capacity
- Reduce energy cost
- Compatible with any environment
- Consistent airflow and temperature
Need for Brush Module
Also, we strongly recommend choosing the right rack that is equipped with an air diverter kit, blanking panels, and brush modules. The brush modules plays a key part in managing airflow within the data center to avoid cold air leakage even during the high-pressure flow. The brush module is added on the top, bottom, and side panels of the rack with an air seal kit to reduce cold air leakage. This will ensure a consistent flow of cold air through mission-critical equipment.
- Ready-made solution
- Available in different sizes and shape
Air Diverter Kit and its usage
Datacenter operation faces a challenge in managing cross airflow that can cause a thermal short circuit and air blockages. The air diverter solution kit is designed in such a way that the non-conventional side-to-side airflow devices will be converted to the conventional front to rear airflow. This improves the overall airflow management.
- Efficient airflow management in side-side air flow devices
- Easy installation
- Available with assisted airflow model
Prevent the damage
Poor airflow management not only increases the operating cost of the data center through unnecessary energy consumption but can lead to premature equipment and cable failures, overheating issues, and an increased chance of outages. Since such downtime can immensely impact the IT infrastructure business so; a comprehensive airflow management solution should be an integral part of a data center.