Impact of directional air flow on data centres

Over the years technology has improved markedly. It has also improved at lightning speed, and the IT data and server rooms that were built just a decade ago are now more likely than not operating at something less than optimum. The kinds of changes we are talking about include the increased heat outputs of IT equipment, the variable heat generation of computer cycles, and the different heat load requirements of new types of equipment as they are added to a server room. We take a closer look at those this month and consider how directional air flow can help improve the performance of your hot and cold containment aisles.

Hot and cold containment

By way of a quick refresher, hot and cold containment aisles are those that are created specifically for server and IT data rooms. The relatively intense cooling environment that is required to deal with the heat that equipment emits can be a significant expense. Aisle containment isolates those areas that require cooling – or, conversely, creates corridors for the expulsion of hot exhaust air – in order to minimise the space that needs to be cooled, thus saving money.

Directional air flow

While physical hot and cold aisle containment systems are effective, the changes in IT equipment and their cooling demands over the last ten to fifteen years have prompted a rethink of how best to optimise them. Inefficient airflow across data rooms can end up adding a high cost to your monthly energy budget, as your HVAC system may not be working as effectively.

How can raised flooring help to improve this efficiency? The integration of vents in the right location is one of the key considerations in designing a containment system. However, things do change as companies, and consequently data rooms and IT requirements, change. What may have worked to start with, may not be ideal anymore as equipment is moved around.

Designing a containment aisle that enables directional air flow can be a game changer. Being able to move the fins in your vents so that air flows where it is needed the most will allow you to update your server room in accordance with the demands on its performance. It will also enable you to direct air flow to the equipment that needs it the most. It can also help with meeting the capacity and intensity demands of individual pieces of kit.

Energy and cost efficiency

Whether you are looking to install a new system, or to retrofit an existing one, designing it to enable directional air flow will also save you money in build costs. It could lead to the elimination, or at the very least a reduction, in the number of containment doors, roofing, walling, and cavity systems that traditional containment aisle designs utilise. Therefore, what may seem like an increased capital cost could actually save you money through a reduced payback time period as well as on your energy bills.

For more information on how directional air flow could be a game changer for your business talk to our specialists at Fieldmans Access Floors. You can find us on 020 8462 7100 for an exploratory discussion or to make an appointment.