What are the most cost effective and simple ways to improve cooling so that your servers run at optimal temperatures?
Overheating causes serious damage to your server’s components, forcing you to replace them much sooner than anticipated. At the same time, cooling your data centre can be the most expensive electricity cost. Keeping your servers nice and chilly for peak performance can become a bit of a catch 22. However, there are some cheap and effective techniques you can implement to keep your servers running at optimal temperatures without enduring the massive electricity bills.
Common cooling issues
Many server rooms suffer from cooling problems, most of which are easily rectifiable without costing too much. Be on the lookout for:
- Recirculation: Bad rack hygiene causes hot exhaust air to find its way back into the face of the rack, heating IT equipment to high temperatures.
- Air stratification: This occurs due to air’s natural tendency to gather in different temperature-based layers, leading to less-than-optimal precision cooling equipment performance. Database managers often overcompensate by increasing fan speed, causing bypass air.
- Bypass air: Air moving faster than the server fans’ ability to draw in cool air causes cold air to ‘bypass’ the server, diminishing efficiency.
Simple techniques to improve cooling
IT managers can take some simple steps to improve server temperature, such as:
- Blanking panels and cable management: This is more of a common-sense step, but it’s surprisingly overlooked. You should look to cut out blank space, such as an empty server rack, with blanking panels that will redirect cool air through the equipment that needs it. At the same time, poor server cable management leads to hot exhaust blowing into the cables, which diminishes appropriate airflow and increases temperature. More blanking panels and better cable management can immediately improve temperature
- Implement control systems: Stable ambient temperatures means you can rely on naturally cool weather to keep servers in a good temp range. If you use a control system to adjust temperature, you can back off the air conditioning as necessary when ambient temperature is in an acceptable range (between 10 and 28 degrees Celsius to keep electricity costs down).
- Cold/hot aisle containment: Your server room will need less cooling air if it’s arranged into a cold/hot aisle containment configuration. Essentially, the spaces between the facing racks are enclosed and cold air is blown into the cold aisle, which is then directed to the hottest parts of the equipment. The hot air is vented into the hot aisle where it is collected and used for heating in other areas of the business – for example, heating water via a heat pump. This need to precisely collect and direct air may cost the business a little extra in set-up expenses.
If your organisation can avoid the common cooling issues, and implement some simple cooling techniques, it can reduce your data centre's temperature and increase the life expectancy of your equipment.
Lenovo™ servers, powered by Intel® Xeon® processors, have consistently held the #1 position in TBR's customer satisfaction surveys (2). According to the latest independent ITIC 2015–2016 Global Server Hardware and OS Reliability Survey, Lenovo System x servers also offer best-in-class reliability in the x86 category (3).
1. A 79% majority of corporations now require a minimum of 99.99% uptime or better for mission critical hardware, operating systems and main line of business (LOB) applications, up from 67% in 2012–2013. ITIC Report 2014. IT departments claim to spend 25% of their time reacting to technical issues - Lenovo Commercial Segmentation Study, June 2015.
2. According to TBR analyst report, released in August 2015, Lenovo was rated #1 in all 22 of the evaluated attributes.
3. Per the ITIC 2015–2016 Server and OS Reliability Survey, July 2015.