Keeping your cool

The Middle East is one of the more difficult countries to site a data centre, with issues such as extreme heat making building and maintaining a data centre particularly challenging.

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Keeping your cool Sundeep Raina, regional sales manager, Chatsworth Products International.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  February 4, 2013

“It might make more sense to look at operational controls allowing for greater supply air temperatures and reducing humidification costs via ultra-sonic systems and also levels depending on the equipment requirements,” states Raina.

Coughlan from Cannon Technologies agrees that the most cost effective approach to data centre cooling in this region is indeed aisle containment.

“This is easy to deploy or retrofit to an existing facility. By containing the cold aisle, the input air can be delivered effectively to the hardware and the exhaust air can be vented to the atmosphere. The aisle containment prevents cooled air being wasted and delivers the most cost efficient delivery mechanism,” he says.

 This solution also provides flexibility for data centre owners to use other cooling technologies to solve specific problems. For example, in-row cooling can be delivered to deal with blade servers in one aisle while other cooling might be used elsewhere to cooling storage or other servers.

Companies should also look at building insulation and lighting systems. Insulation is probably one of the hardest issues to resolve according to Chatsworth Products International, because if it was not initially installed it could be tough to install inside an operational data centre. Lighting is an element that is commonly overlooked due its low total cost but this is something that many are having to re-evaluate.

Many US cities and states now require that all fluorescent lamps must be disposed of by a licensed agency that properly disposes of the lamps and their hazardous waste. This is adding additional costs to the data centres but it is overlooked because it hits someone else’s budget.

“Today we need to look at all aspects and going to LED lighting technology is not only cost effective, there are many documented cases showing a six month ROI, but also is more environmentally friendly since many manufactures utilise 100% recycle components on their LED light and fixtures. When you combine this with the greater reduced lighting maintenance this is almost a no-brainer,” says Raina.

Liquid cooling
According to Iceotope, although liquid cooling also makes use of water, as evaporative cooling does, systems that employ a closed loop system do not waste water in the same manner and could definitely be seen as a viable option in the Middle East.

“Indeed there are many aspects of these kinds of liquid cooled systems, such as those pioneered by Iceotope, that make them ideally suited to the Middle East region. Because these systems can take high input temperatures, the Iceotope design for example can take water up to 45°C; they can provide full-time free cooling even in this part of the world. Its sealed units also mean other external factors have no effect such as dust, humidity and air pollution,” explains Hopton.

“To put into perspective exactly how economical these systems operate, optimal figures show that they use just 80watts to cool 20KWatts of IT, the same amount of energy required to light a light bulb.”

Iceotope says that there are numerous secondary benefits to liquid cooling systems. These liquid cooling systems can recycle the waste-heat in the form of hot water, which can either be used within the facility, to run water turbines or as part of the central heating system, or taken out of the facility and used in the surrounding buildings; they do not require fans, chiller equipment or any other expensive supplementary systems as part of the cooling process. this cuts infrastructure and operating costs, total energy bills and also greatly enhances the flexibility of these facilities, whilst increasing data centre density.

“Traditional air and chiller based technologies continue to be the most popular forms of data centre cooling but I think it would be fair to say that evaporative and liquid cooling are getting closer. I expect liquid cooling to become more popular in hotter climates and developing regions where new data centre builds are more common,” explains Hopton.

There is a global uptake of close-coupled cooling solutions, such as in-row and rear door heat exchangers, according to Siemon; however, the use of computer room air conditioner and handler (CRAC/CRAH) units still prevails.

“I believe that this is in part due to the fact that this technology is tried and true and mechanical and engineering firms understand how they work,” says Higbie.

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