For most businesses, the simplest methods for eliminating a problem often go unnoticed. With emerging technologies taxing IT infrastructures and deployment, older technologies are often not taken into account when pursuing a solution. Power consumption can fall into this category as a simple, yet overlooked area of improvement.
1. Proper temperature and humidity Setting the correct temperature and humidity levels in the data center is essential to proper airflow in the room. Too often there is a misconception that server rooms should be cold and little monitoring is done to maintain optimum temperature and humidity levels. Many times the only sensor device in the room is the one located on the thermostat. Server rooms should be kept cool, but actually do not need to be cooler than average room temperature throughout the site. The recommended temperature range for data center rooms has always been between 67 and 72 degrees. Too often, businesses cool their data centers down to 65 degrees. It's okay to keep the room a few degrees warmer; the computer equipment will still be operating within recommended and optimal temperature ranges.
2. Proper floor tiles The cold aisle should contain perforated tiles or grates to promote the flow of cooler air from the floor up to the server air intake. Placing these perforations, thus raising the floor within the cold aisle, takes advantage of the inherent properties of cooler air that will reduce the work required by the HVAC system and computer cooling mechanisms. Hot aisles should not contain these floor perforations so that the flow of warmer air to the air conditioning return ducts remains unobstructed. Any time machinery is moved around in the data center, the alternating grates in the cold aisles must also be moved to keep the free flow of warmer and cooler air at a maximum.
3. Bypass air Bypass air is any conditioned air in the data center that is not used by the computer equipment air intakes. This results in airflow inefficiencies within the layout of the data center. Cooler air is promoted to rise from the floor through the use of perforated floor tiles or grates in the cold aisle. Air should be prevented from rising from the floor for any other purpose. Bypass air often results from anomalies in the floor within the data center. These can be holes cut in the floor to permit electrical or network cables leaving the room or broken floor tiles. Look for these areas on the server floor and if possible, seal them to keep bypass air to a minimum. Anytime computer equipment is relocated in the room, be sure to check for any defects on the newly exposed floor and repair it. Also look for bypass air at the cutouts on the rear of server cabinets. Anytime cabling exits the rear of the server, the cutout must be properly sealed to prevent bypass air. Another area where bypass air can occur is around the door to the data center. Ensure that this entryway is properly sealed.
4. Blanking panels Finally, within the hot aisle/cold aisle configuration, blanking panels should be placed in server racks where there is no machinery. If blank spaces are left in the server racks, these gaps will allow hot air from the exhaust to re-enter the cold aisle, reducing the efficiency of the whole configuration. These panels simply cover up the holes at the front of the racks to block the mixing of hot and cold air. This simple fix maximizes the energy-saving potential of your hot aisle/cold aisle data center layout.