cooling SENSIBLE SELECTION Rik Williams of Node 4 looks at the issues around data centre cooling and advises how to choose the right system. D ata centres are the lifeblood of cloud based businesses today, so creating the optimum operating environment is critical. While advances in technology mean hardware is becoming more tolerant of higher supply air temperature, cooling remains an essential consideration to ensure the data centre operates in the correct environmental window, 24/7. Data centre cooling is a mature market and there are proven technologies in this space with widespread adoption. Technically, 22 there will be a solution you can deploy, but finding the right one for your particular data centre isn’t that easy. Balancing cooling capacity, capex, opex, efficiency, control, redundancy and maintainability is a challenge that is different for every project. The complexities of data centre cooling The technical, financial and environmental variables associated with data centre cooling make it a complicated business. For instance, a future government may move goalposts on green taxation, which could mean a good solution now will become much less attractive – and compliant – in the years to come. For colocation providers, flexibility can be the critical issue, as the range of customer equipment in data centres and the unpredictability of power density can further complicate things. A lot of the practical challenges related to data centre cooling come from physical building constraints, for example, where insufficient outdoor spacing can cause poor airflow. Moving an entire data centre to accommodate the best choice of cooling system isn’t an option. But the result is a restriction in the choice of solution and, most likely, a compromise.