Cool customer: How to embrace the latest in data centre cooling

Organisations urged to embrace latest technology in data centre cooling efficiency as IT energy costs skyrocket

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Cool customer: How to embrace the latest in data centre cooling Hidden largely from view, both literally and figuratively, are major technology leaps in the way our data centres are powered and cooled
By  David Ndichu Published  August 26, 2015

Most data centres today, experts contend, will use almost as much non-computing energy (like cooling and power conversion) as they do to power their servers. And this ratio continue to rise as organisations demand more compute power from their data centres. Rising energy costs are therefore receiving more scrutiny from senior-level executives seeking to manage expenses. In fact, energy costs have now become one of the driving factors in decisions regarding data centre location and design.

At the turn of the century, after years of rapid growth, the power consumption of data centres crossed the threshold of one per cent of all power generated in developed economies, observes Dennis O’Sullivan, senior data centre LEAN Expert, Eaton EMEA.  “Cooling and electricity/UPS makes up around 35 per cent of total energy consumption in a data centre, with general computing equipment power accounting for 50 per cent,” explains O’Sullivan. “The IT industry has realised what the continuation of the power consumption trend means from an economic and environmental standpoint. The focus is shifting from increasing performance and capacity only, to a more balanced view that places a high value on energy efficiency,” he adds.

Alexander Khalaev, vice president of sales - MENA, CIS and Baltics for Tripp Lite, highlights  research that shows data centre operations account for nearly 2% of all the Middle East’s energy consumption, with cooling solutions some of the biggest energy consumers in the data centre. “Cooling makes up approximately 37% of a data centre’s electricity usage if it is well-designed. The percentage may be even higher in data centres that don’t employ cooling best practices,” Khalaev says.

The growing data centre energy demands and the simultaneously spiralling energy bills have intensified the importance of data centre efficiency, notes Gartner’s senior research analyst, Neha Kumar. “Cooling efficiency is a critical enabler of the overall data centre efficiency. One of the primary means of achieving cooling efficiency would be to reduce the amount of power consumed by the cooling systems, which in regions with high ambient temperatures can account for as much as 50% of the total data centre power consumed,” Kumar explains.

Organisations though can get a handle of their data centre cooling costs as vendors in the space increasingly offer cooling solutions with energy saving as default.

Rittal offers various cooling systems for low, mid and high density environment, says Rajesh Rajan, sales manager - IT Infrastructure and Datacentre solutions Rittal Middle East. With the Liquid Cooling Package (LCP), Rittal Inrack cooling unit can deliver up to 110KW of cooling per cabinet while taking a low footprint, explains Rajan. Rittal CRAC units on the other hand, also available with inverter compressor for higher efficiencies, are offered for low & mid density environment while the Inrow LCP offers an ideal choice for a typical mid -density environment.

“A further efficiency enhancement is achieved through use of aisle containment system along with CRAC & Inrow Liquid Cooling Package (LCP). The Inrack LCP becomes the default choice in a high density environment offering 55KW of cooling in a foot print of just 0.36 Sq Metre.  Rittal chillers, designed specifically for IT environment, with its intelligent inverter pumps, offer higher efficiency, again in a lower foot print. All the above cooling units are offered with monitoring facility so that energy efficiency can be monitored,” explains Rajan.

Emerson Network Power thermal management business offers an extensive product portfolio catered towards energy efficiency and savings, says Pierre Havenga, managing director for Emerson Network Power in Middle East & Africa.

These include direct expansion systems that are able to operate at high return-air temperatures, suitable for the increased temperatures within which IT equipment works; chilled water systems that maximize freecooling operation all year round and include a chilled water floor mount range and freecooling chillers; as well as an adiabatic freecooling chiller (Liebert AFC), which combines 3 cooling technologies (adiabatic cooling, freecooling, and mechanical cooling) in a single unit and is capable of achieving a partial power usage effectiveness (pPUE) of 1.08.

In addition, Emerson’s indirect evaporative freecooling solution includes indirect air-to-air heat exchange and evaporative cooling technologies in one footprint, explains Havenga.

Tripp Lite on the other hand currently offers two different cooling solutions for data centres, says Khalaev. The Tripp Lite SRXCOOL12K is a portable, self-contained air conditioning unit with a cooling capacity of 12,000 BTU, which is ideal for supplemental cooling or removing hot spots. It’s designed to support remote management and can be networked so that users can monitor temperatures, receive alerts, access logs, change settings and automate operation from any location.

The SRXCOOL33K is an efficient in-row cooler that provides 33,000 BTU of close-coupled cooling and can reduce power consumption and operating costs up to 33%, making it an ideal solution for high-density data centre equipment. It’s a self-contained unit with a built-in condenser and built-in evaporator that eliminates condensation through the exhaust air stream, meaning no floor drain or water collection tank are required, Khalaev adds.

Eaton on its part has its Airflow Management Solutions (AMS) which, according to O’Sullivan,  optimises data centre equipment, improves information processing density, creates a greener data centre and increases spatial flexibility for the data centre manager. “Eaton offers a wide range of partial and total containment solutions that can accommodate hot aisle containment, cold aisle containment and rack-based heat containment,” O’Sullivan adds.

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