5 Things to Know About Data Center Environmental Monitoring
October 04, 2016

Today, data centers are not only focused on maintaining availability but also ensuring efficiency and sustainability, helping to conserve energy and save costs. Here are the 5 things to know about data center environmental monitoring:

 

1. Temperature

All servers and server racks should operate within the defined inlet temperature as defined by server manufacturers or ASHRAE TC 9.9 Thermal Guidelines for Data Center Processing environments. Failing to do so can lead to serious uptime issues or wasteful overcooling, inefficiency and cost.  Temperature sensors should be placed at the top, middle, and bottom inlets of server cabinets. Data center operators should also look at distributing environmental sensors in both hot and cold aisles in order to get a clear and better understanding of what is happening with their delta T, or the temperature rise of air passing through the server in ⁰F. Identifying the ΔT and associated IT equipment flow rates is crucial to balancing the volume of air moving through the IT equipment with the volume of air moving through the cooling units. 

 

2. Humidity

Relative Humidity (RH) is the ratio of moisture in a given sample to that of the maximum amount of moisture it could contain. To minimize data center risk and potential equipment failure, ASHRAE recommends 60%RH and allowable at 20% to 80% RH.

 

3. Water

Water can damage the systems by entering the data center rooms through leakages in coolant systems, through water pipes on the roof or leakage from roof or floor, and flooding. To avoid this, it is important to also install water sensors below the raised floor or on the slab to offer continuous monitoring.

 

4. Fire Detection Monitoring and Supression

Clean-agent or inert gases, are the most common non-water based protection systems in data centers.  These gaseous agents actuate early in a fire scenario to protect the data and IT equipment. Clean agents were developed as a replacement for Halon 1301. Because these systems do not use water, they are considered less likely to damage electrical equipment. Clean agents are classified as either halocarbon agents or inert gases. Blue LED and infra-red laser optical smoke detection can be used to detect a wide range of fires while maintaining enhanced immunity to nuisance particulates delivering accurate and discreet early warning fire detection.

 

5. Air Flow

Air flow is directly related to cooling and humidity. If the air flow is well maintained, half of the problem of humidity and cooling will be solved. The ideal air flow depends upon the surrounding environment and is expressed in cubic feet per minute (cfm). Flow depends on the moisture in the air as well as on the difference between supply and return of air. In small and dense rooms, the air required will be more, as compared to open areas. Flow sensors or an air balometer capture hood can be used to measure and monitor air flow.  Airflow management improvements allow for the reduction of conditioned airflow rates from cooling units, either by reducing fan speeds or by turning units off. 

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