Without a doubt, the backbone of all the digital services used by people and organizations today is a vast network of servers and computing resources. These systems – clustered in data centers – provide the performance and availability required for a wide variety of individual and business operations. These include making inquiries, transferring data and providing various cloud computing services for millions of users globally and around the clock. As is logical, these servers and computer tools generate a large amount of heat that can affect their operation and damage them. To avoid these effects and the interruption of the aforementioned services, it is vital to have an effective cooling system in data centres.
Keep reading to learn a little more about how data centres work, their characteristics and their cooling needs.
What are data centres?
In essence, data centres or data centres are facilities in which a large number of servers are available, as well as databases and network and telecommunications technology to process huge amounts of data. To manage all this information, the aforementioned resources have different specialized programs.
In other words, the design of data centres allows for the safe storage and processing of digital information. Ideally, these infrastructures should be tailored to the requirements of the company, if it needs to manage its data on its own. Or, in the case of cloud service providers, take their capacity further to serve companies that outsource this function. A trend that continues to grow, thanks to the growth of cloud computing services.
In general, to consider a data centre successful, apart from the appropriate infrastructure to house the servers, it must have:
- Reliable and versatile technology for data management.
- Solutions and measures to ensure data integrity and security; as well as a periodic maintenance strategy.
- An uninterruptible power source that ensures the continuity of vital operations. Such as the storage of all types of data, organization projects or website hosting.
- Last but not least, having an adequate cooling system.
Indeed, cooling in data centres is one of the fundamental factors for the proper functioning of these infrastructures.
Importance of data centres in digital transformation
Above, we refer to cloud service providers, companies that manage large data centres. Thanks to these infrastructures, the aforementioned organizations can provide various tools and functionalities to companies of different sectors and sizes; whether they are data storage, software, infrastructure and platform as a service (SaaS, IaaS and PaaS).
With this, computer solutions for customer relationship management (CRM) and for ERP business resource planning and others more focused on the administration of small businesses, are within the reach of medium and large businesses. The characteristic of this type of software is that the provider is responsible for its maintenance and updating. In addition, its installation is fast, which avoids losing productivity. In conclusion, the accessibility of such solutions is one of the most important drivers of business digitization.
On the other hand, with infrastructure and platform services, companies and independents dedicated to web development can design and consolidate their applications.
Importance of cooling in data centres
Data centres typically consist of rooms with servers and hardware stacked and distributed in corridors. As we have said, this amount of equipment that works non-stop generates high temperatures inside these sites.
Obviously, the more clustered servers there are in a zone, the higher the temperature. If the latter reaches levels above the critical point, without applying measures to control this heat, overheating and collapse of said equipment would be common. Furthermore, the risks of fires would be greater. Both eventualities would lead to interruptions of operations for variable periods of time. Similarly, such suspensions would cause huge losses to organizations with their own servers and users of cloud services.
Precisely, cooling systems in data centres are key to solving the problems that heat would cause in these buildings. Therefore, the custom design of the air conditioning and temperature control infrastructure would bring benefits such as:
- The continuous operation of servers and other equipment at the appropriate temperature for longer periods of time between maintenance.
- Improved airflow between hall corridors, isolating hot air from servers and controlling humidity levels.
In this way, the downtime of the data centres is reduced and the servers would work reliably.
The Cooling Dilemma in Data Centers
While heat control is critical for the reasons stated, it is also true that some systems can be very power-hungry. Certainly, this factor contributes to increasing the use of electricity by data centres.
In 2020, during the most critical months of the Covid-19 pandemic, data centres consumed 200 to 250 TWh (Terawatt hours). This corresponds to about 1% of the final electricity demand worldwide. This data, provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA), does not include the energy consumed by cryptocurrency mining, which reached around 100 TWh that year.
This implies the need to carefully investigate the options that allow, on the one hand, to save costs for electricity consumption. And, on the other hand, they are more sustainable in terms of energy demand. An efficient data centre cooling system is capable of directly improving server performance and reducing heat emissions from all equipment.
Sustainable Options to Supplement Cooling in Data Centers
The cooling systems used in the infrastructures we are dealing with can be even more efficient and effective if they are complemented with certain conditions, such as:
- Use energy-efficient servers and equipment in the infrastructure. In itself, the idea is to choose devices with features such as low-power chips, solid-state hard drives and standby mode. These will not only allow savings in electricity consumption but will also generate less heat, which implies less energy consumption by the cooling system in data centres.
- In the same way, it is also effective to arrange the servers following the “hot and cold aisles” technique. That is, place the equipment taking advantage of the flow of hot air from its rear, according to this alternation pattern. In other words, establish a corridor with a cold air inlet and the next with a hot air outlet. This makes it possible to achieve a more uniform air temperature throughout the server site and maintain temperature more efficiently.
- Apart from strategically arranging the servers, it is essential to identify the existing “hot spots” in the data centre. So that it is possible to modify the airflow and reduce the temperature in these areas. Better still, the application of intelligent speed controls in the ventilation of the equipment would help a lot in this purpose.
- If possible, installing a self-consumption system with renewable energy (photovoltaic solar or wind) to cover part of the energy consumption of the data centre and its cooling equipment would be an interesting contribution in the fight against climate change.
Do you need a cooling system in data centres? At Intersam we have the solution!
At Intersam we have 27 years of experience in the design and manufacture of heat exchangers. Therefore, we are able to supply the refrigeration and air conditioning solutions that your company needs. We develop our products with state-of-the-art technology to provide the highest effectiveness and maximum energy efficiency.
Do you need a data centre cooling system for your servers? Contact us as soon as possible! We can attend to your project anywhere in Spain and the world where it is located.