Controlling data center cooling costs has been and will continue to be a hot topic for the foreseeable future. Companies are looking to their IT teams to answer the question: How do we continue to improve cooling efficiency without increasing operating costs? Traditional hot and cold aisle configurations, if implemented correctly, improve cooling efficiency, but also leave room for air mixing.
Therefore, many companies turn to hot and cold aisle containment systems. Aisle containment systems further advance the effects of hot and cold aisle configurations by physically isolating chilled intake air from hot exhaust air and reducing operational costs associated with cooling, while allowing for greater equipment densities.
Then the question begs, how do you select the best aisle containment system for your data center/s? Our team compiled a list of 5 items you should review before choosing an aisle containment system.
1) Does your existing data center need to be retrofitted?
Many standard systems require companies to retrofit their data centers, while custom solutions tend to eliminate the need for retrofitting. Determine if retrofitting your data center is an option and evaluate both standard and custom solutions. Be sure to include line items that come along with retrofitting your data center in the project scope (if retrofitting is necessary) including construction needs, current data center layout, current airflow and more.
2) Current and future data center density requirements.
It is critical to evaluate your data center roadmap before deciding on an aisle containment system. Utilize cross-functional groups including your current hardware provider when determining current and future data center density requirements. Your data center roadmap can also strongly dictate the timeline for your aisle containment system installation and solution type (a hot or cold aisle containment system).
3) The uniformity of your current racks and aisles.
If your current racks are all the same size, you can typically lean towards a standard construction project, and all panels will be the same size. On the other hand, if your racks are different sizes your solution will need to be customized to accommodate the differences between the racks.
4) Do your data center/s deploy raised floor cooling?
Whether or not raised floor cooling is used helps dictate the best way to keep the hot or cold air contained and will be a large factor in the construction and selection of your aisle containment system.
5) The availability of a ceiling plenum to accept hot air. Some data centers pull hot air into a chiller and return the cooled air back into the data center, while others pull hot air into a converter to heat the facility and use the hot air to heat the data center. Understanding the connection between the containment panels and the ceiling are important to ensure you have an effective aisle containment system.
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