Don’t miss the Gorilla in your Data Center

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Don’t let your focus make you overlook simple ways of improving the energy efficiency of your data center.

A study shows that when focusing on a specific task, the human brain tends to ignore even quite bizarre visual impressions. Scientists asked test persons to watch a videoed basket ball match and count the number of passes made by one team. Concentrating on this, half of the test persons afterwards said that they had not seen the man that crossed the court dressed in a gorilla suit.

Do you also miss the gorilla in your data center, when you’re doing energy optimizations?

It’s popular to look at quite challenging ways of improving energy efficiency, such as virtualization and implementing DCIM, which both require substantial work to be implemented.

While these are very good ways of boosting the energy efficiency, we should remember not to let our focus on the hard challenges make us miss the chances of implementing easy energy improvements. In this blog post, I go through some of the simplest ways to reduce energy consumption by managing the air flow in a raised floor data center.

A small leak will sink a great ship

When designing and building a data center, the air distribution is usually thoroughly calculated to make sure that every bit of that expensive cold air is used effectively. When daily operation hits the data center, things tend to change. New cables are installed, things are moved around, and suddenly the air is not distributed as it was intended.

Go through the data center and check the holes around the cables. If applicable use tiles with grommets to reduce the leakage around the cables, otherwise ensure that the holes are no bigger than necessary.

Placing the tiles

It’s quite easy to move tiles around and taking the potential energy savings into account, this is one of the improvements that has an excellent ROI.

The first step is to check that the perforated tiles actually are located, where cold air is really needed to cool the equipment.

The second step, and the one that may be the most surprising, is to ensure that there are no perforated tiles in the perimeter of the CRACs providing the under-floor cooling. Perforated tiles within two metres of the CRAC, may actually allow the hot air of the data center to mix with the cold air under the floor. This is due to the high pressure and high velocity of the cold air.

Adjustable tiles

When moving the tiles around, you will probably come across some places where some cold air is needed, but not the total amount of cold air supplied by a perforated tile at that place.

In this situations, perforated tiles with adjustable damper settings are the right choice. This type of tiles allows you to set the resistance of the tile, hence controlling the amount of air passing through it.

Share your tricks

These were a few of my easy tricks to improve efficiency of the cooling in a data center? What are your best tricks for easy efficiency improvements? Please use the comments section below to share your knowledge.