Networks Europe March/April 2019 - Page 29

GOING GREEN By Bill Kleyman, Director of Technology Solutions, EPAM Systems Mapping the data centre’s path to a greener future using airflow management I remember at the last Data Centre World conference I was having numerous conversations about running a more efficient and greener data centre. Then, on the expo floor, I saw many solutions that can actually make it happen. Going green is a movement that helps save both money and the environment, so it’s an obvious route many people would like to take, and airflow management helps you get there. I’ve learned, however, that there are preconceived notions that it’s too hard to deploy new airflow management mechanisms. So, companies stick with what they have and look for optimisation elsewhere. Well, there are actually some really cool magnetic and even tool-less designs which have made airflow management more like a Lego approach, and therefore much easier to deploy. A blossoming market Before we go into talking about tool-less designs, it’s really important to note that many organisations are already investing in green technologies to support better data centre economics, greater levels of efficiency, and to improve the corporate image. Looking at the market in general, the airflow management industry was valued at $419.8 Million in 2016. However, according to MarketsandMarkets Research, the market is expected to reach $807.3 Million by 2023, at a CAGR of 9.24% between 2017 and 2023. What’s driving this growth? The growing demand for green data centres globally. Factors such as, an increasing number of data centres worldwide and improving cooling efficiency and thermal management in data centres, are driving the growth of the airflow management market. Let’s focus back on the data centre for a second. A recent Transparency Market Research report points out the explosion in the amount of data generated has led to the growth of data centres globally. However, the major problem data centre owners and operators face is the need for additional cooling capacity as the present system doesn’t offer adequate temperature at the IT equipment inlets. But in most cases, the problem is not one of insufficient cooling capacity, but of poor airflow management. Airflow management involves directing and blocking off air conditioning and exhaust air using devices such as raised perforated tiles and grills, grommets, blanking panels, containment and more. Without good airflow management, there’s no way you’ll be able to deliver a greener data centre. So, what do you do? Rip everything out and start over? Invest in really expensive means to deliver better airflow management? Or, build a new data centre entirely? Maybe the latter is a bit extreme only to achieve better airflow results, but something will need to be done to help your data centre ‘breathe’ easier. On that note, some good news. In today’s data centre-dependent world, leading partners are creating solutions to help resolve some of the most complex airflow management challenges out there. But, you’ll need to think outside the box to make this happen. Improving airflow Applying airflow management science to cooling and efficiency, it’s critical to remember that there are services which can help you analyse your cooling ecosystem on an on-going basis. These types of approaches are specifically designed with optimum airflow management as the foundational science. Furthermore, they can be custom- designed to generate energy savings, release stranded capacity and improve system reliability. These types of services offer a global perspective and understanding of the importance of energy conservation while contributing to operating expense reduction, increased density capabilities and improved data centre reliability. The key point here is that deploying one solution may only solve a part of your problem. But, what if you’re not actually seeing the big picture? Doing a cooling analysis will allow you to see your data centre holistically and where to apply resolutions. Approaching a new tool-less design, let me give you a specific example; some companies offer sliding doors that allow data centres to achieve aisle-end containment in just minutes and without the need for contract labour. The tool- less design allows for quick and easy installation, removal, and re-installation – no drilling required. The sliding doors reduce data centre operating costs by improving thermal efficiency and reducing IT equipment intake temperatures, which enhances both equipment life and reliability. It’s time to try it Now for my final and really important point. You’ll read all about airflow management, the kinds of things it can do for your data centre, and how it’ll all lead to a greener future. However, these are just words unless you actually try it out. The beauty with some of these designs is that it makes trials and proof of concepts infinitely easier. Get a few of these units and see how well they fit into your data centre. This is the best way to really learn the design architecture behind these solutions and how they can specifically optimise your environment. You’re not looking at a data centre overhaul. Rather, with a scientific approach, you’ll understand where there are gaps in airflow management efficiency and where these types of solutions can be applied. n 29