How Cold-Aisle Containment Delivers Fast Business Benefits

GEOFF DENHAM

High-density compute servers and server blades are stretching the operating expenditure of the average datacentre or comms room to breaking point.  The good news is that there are various strategies to cope with this .  In this blog, we explore a simple, logical solution that makes sound financial sense and minimises disruption to build – cold-aisle containment systems (CACS).

Newer IT equipment consumes two or three times as much electricity per rack as previous generations and there isn’t much you can do about that.  However, this generates significant extra heat which – left unchecked – will cook a server’s components faster than you can say ‘self-defeating’.  The result of all this spells the bulk of hidden energy costs that arise in datacentre environments where simple downflow or upflow cooling solutions are no longer sufficient.

Retrofitting cold-aisle containment in a typical room layout

The principle of hot and cold aisles is reasonably well established in most datacentre environments, and supported by the front-to-front alignment of racks and intelligent positioning of cooling units.  However, in the teeth of hotter and denser IT requirements, such rudimentary configurations are prone to failure.  Or worse, they succeed in keeping the environment sufficiently cool, but at enormous cost.  This is especially bad for organisations concerned about their carbon reduction responsibilities, not to mention budgetary control or system uptime.

The philosophy of CACS is that it delivers air only to where it is needed which means that no energy is wasted. It is a simple and logical solution to manage airflow and increase efficiency within the server room or data centre.

Cold Aisle Containment separates the cold air (delivered) from the hot air (exhaust), thereby allowing the hot air to return to the cooling units, increasing ‘Delta T’ – the difference in temperature between heat collected and cooling delivered.  The cold air is trapped in a cold aisle allowing it to be used solely by the servers/IT equipment.

The net effect is an increase in the efficiency, density, capacity and – to a certain extent – the redundancy of any datacentre or server room.  Plus, retrofitting CACS to an existing datacentre is easier than you think.

Rapid, demonstrable business benefits

Based on numerous projects Comtec has delivered using the latest containment technology, we can prove a 20% minimum saving on OPEX when using CACS.  In some cases we have managed to cut OPEX in half by simply installing a roof and doors onto an existing Cold Aisle, delivering return on investment in well under 12 months.  Other benefits include meaningful PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) improvements and carbon footprint reduction, all for a low outlay cost.

Comtec routinely employs its capabilities in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to benchmark and illustrate the various savings and advantages achieved by CACS.

Comtec supports each and every best-practice approach to datacentre power and cooling – including hot-aisle containment systems (HACS) and CACS – as part of right-sized strategy to deliver maximum benefits for unique circumstances and business objectives.

Depending on the needs of the organisation, its existing room layout and environmental constraints, future growth plans and other considerations, it may be advisable to pursue CACS over another of the numerous available cooling strategies.  If so, you can count on rapid benefits with minimum disruption to your infrastructure.

Download our White Paper – Impact of Hot and Cold Aisle Containment

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Impact of Hot and Cold Aisle Containment on Data Center Temperature and Efficiency

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