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Monitoring in Data Centers

Monitoring in Data Centers

Data Centers in General

Over the years there has been a rapid increase in large stand-alone data centers housing computer systems, hosting cloud computing servers and supporting telecommunications equipment. These data centers are crucial entities for every company’s IT operations around the world.

It is paramount for manufacturers of information technology equipment (ITE) to increase computing capability and improve computing efficiency. Data centers have become significant power consumers. All the stakeholders including ITE manufacturers, physical infrastructure manufacturers, data center designers and operators have been focusing on reducing power consumption from the non-computing part of the overall power load. One major cost of operating a data center is the cooling infrastructure that supports the ITE.

Too much or too little humidity not only causes discomfort to human beings, but can also cause problems with ITE. With too much humidity, condensation can occur and with too little humidity, static electricity can occur. Both can have a significant impact and can cause damage to computers and equipment in data centers.

It is therefore essential to maintain and control ideal environmental conditions, with precise humidity and temperature measurement thus increasing energy efficiency while reducing energy costs in Data Centers. ASHRAE Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments has helped create a framework for the industry to follow and better understand the implications of ITE cooling requirements on the data center and vice versa. There is a growing concern about energy efficiency in data centers, particularly the cooling component.

Why the need to measure temperature and humidity?

Maintaining temperature and humidity levels in the data center can reduce unplanned downtime caused by adverse environmental conditions and can save companies thousands or even millions of dollars per year. A recent white paper from The Green Grid (“Updated Air-Side Free Cooling Maps: The Impact of ASHRAE 2011 Allowable Ranges”) discusses the new ASHRAE recommended and allowable ranges in the context of free cooling.

The humidity varies to some extent with temperature, however, in a data center, the absolute humidity should never fall below 0.006 g/kg, nor should it ever exceed 0.011 g/kg.

Maintaining temperature range between 20° to 24°C is optimal for system reliability. This temperature range provides a safe buffer for equipment to operate in the event of air conditioning or HVAC equipment failure while making it easier to maintain a safe relative humidity level. In general, ITE should not be operated in a data center where the ambient room temperature has exceeded 30°C. Maintaining ambient relative humidity levels between 45% and 55% is recommended.