Managing a Datacenter Near the Rocky Mountains

By Earthnet Inc. May 8, 2018

Earthnet relies on fresh air cooling during the colder months to manage its datacenter. A 20-ton economizer on the roof sends external air straight to the datacenter without having to cool it first. The economizer helps reduce the need for electricity, which leaves a smaller footprint on the environment.

When the weather warms up, it’s necessary to use a chiller. Earthnet uses Liebert System up-flow air conditioning units to precisely regulate the temperature and humidity of the datacenter. The combination of air conditioning with fresh air cooling ensures reliability of the equipment.

Each AC unit contains independent compressors and cooling loops to further guarantee fault tolerance and reliability. The Liebert AC units continuously pump chilled air into the pressurized raised floor of the data center, maintaining a consistent operating environment for the servers. Air filtration systems actively remove foreign particulates from circulation and cycle the datacenter air supply.

A typical datacenter runs at about 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Google’s datacenter is located in Belgium to take advantage of the cold climate. They use fresh air cooling instead of chillers and their datacenter runs warmer at about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When their equipment gets that hot, employees can’t be around it for very long.

The advantage of having a datacenter in Boulder, Colorado is that you can physically tour the facilities and meet the staff who manage your data. Additionally, the datacenter is located in an area with minimal risks for earthquakes or other natural hazards such as tornadoes.

When companies are considering how to maximize efficiency and minimize costs, temperature in the datacenter plays an important role. The following factors affect how efficiently the datacenter performs.

Datacenter Best Practices

1. Measure PUE
The Power Usage Effectiveness measures the total power usage to the amount of power used by the IT equipment. A very efficient PUE would be 1.00, and an average PUE would be 2.00.

Here is an example: A datacenter that uses 200,000 kW of total power of which 100,000 kW is used to power the IT equipment, would generate a PUE of 2.00. The 200,000 kW of total facility power divided by the 100,000 kW of IT power.

2. Manage Airflow
Ideally, the airflow around heated racks with servers carries hot air away and circulates cold air back in. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) relies on numerical analysis and data structures to examine fluid flow. For example, thermal modeling can identify hotspots in a datacenter.

3. Adjust Thermostat
Typically a datacenter has server racks lined up in alternating rows. The front of the equipment takes in cold air and while the hot air exhausts face the other way. The rack fronts are called cold aisles and they usually face the air conditioning ducts.

You can adjust the thermostat to increase the temperature in the cold aisle. There are also different ways to configure the servers. Whatever the configuration of hot aisles and cold aisles, the goal is to conserve energy by managing temperature and airflow.

4. Utilize Free Cooling
There are a few ways to utilize free cooling so you aren’t reliant on chillers around the clock. If you’re located in a cold climate, you can use evaporative cooling to circulate cool air inside the datacenter. This requires use of air filtration and the best environments for air cooling are low-humidity environments. You can also circulate chilled water through pumps and cooling towers to regulate temperature.

5. Optimize Power Distribution
A main component of a well-run datacenter is an uninterruptable power supply. You can save energy by minimizing the conversion stages of the voltages of electricity that run different components in the data center. It’s worth having a design that makes each conversion stage as efficient as possible.

Take a Tour

It’s possible to see for yourself how these components work together for an efficient datacenter. To schedule a tour of Earthnet’s datacenter, please contact us.

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