Colocation is an innovative way to leverage existing IT infrastructure that offers additional data storage capacity. Simply put, colocation is a type of Web hosting that allows smaller businesses to take advantage of the extra IT bells and whistles larger corporations already have in place with their hosting services. The corporation providing the Web hosting services is called the “colocation site” and the smaller company simply buys the space, usually on a month-by-month or annual basis. One of the most critical features to evaluate before you select a colocation site is how data center cooling is managed. This is because much of the cost of hosting your data comes from cooling costs themselves. Here are some best practices for data center cooling that can help you choose the best and most affordable colocation site to host your data.
Airflow architecture refers to the type of architecture used to manage and control airflow throughout the data center. When choosing a colocation site, you want to be sure the airflow architecture factors in overhead cooling, in-floor options and also hybrid options if the space requires it. Experts recommend using a CFD (computational fluid dynamics) thermal model to measure and track airflow throughout the data cooling center. A CFD-based model allows for better tracking and optimization of airflow, minimizing cooling inefficiencies that can end up being costly to the host company and thus to you. With a CFD-based analysis of the data center’s cooling system, hot spots and open empty spots can also be spotted and adjusted to keep overall cooling costs low.
Containment refers to how the airflow supply and return pathways are isolated (or not) within the greater data center cooling system. When hot air and cool air are allowed to mix, cooling costs rise correspondingly and dangerous hot spots can also form. Containment basically ensures that air of the proper temperature is administered evenly throughout the data center in the most efficient and affordable way possible. In concert with containment, continuous monitoring of PUE (power usage effectiveness) ensures that any potential containment issues are quickly highlighted and resolved.
As data storage and transmission technology continues to develop, data will continue to be generated in ever-greater amounts. Knowing this, you want to do your best to choose a data center that employs a scalable model that can be expanded to accommodate your future data storage needs as your company grows. Otherwise you may face eventually having to move your colocation service to a site with greater storage capacity.
Use of Free Cooling
“Free cooling” is a term that refers to the use of low or no cost resources to provide data center cooling whenever possible. Depending on the climate surrounding the data center, these resources can include outside air, nearby thermal reservoirs and even evaporation. Experts agree that the most expensive aspect of most data center cooling systems is often the use of chiller fans, so minimizing their use by taking advantage of atmospheric and climate change whenever possible can greatly reduce cooling costs seasonally.
Choosing a data cooling center that incorporates eco-friendly energy options can pay off in multiple ways. Customers today care deeply about environmental issues and will often weigh their options in light of these priorities. Additionally, eco-friendly energy systems will likely end up being more cost efficient over the long-term as companies that implement these measures pay off the initial costs of installation and are then able to offer lower storage costs to customers.
Today it is widely known that keeping the thermostat set low is not necessary to keep data centers optimally cool. Through use of containment technology, free cooling, scalable models, airflow architecture, eco-friendly options and more, data centers can set the thermostat much higher than was previously possible, saving themselves and their colocation customers money on cooling costs.
With the help of each of these six data center cooling best practices, you can feel confident that you are choosing a colocation site that can host and protect your data. You can be sure that your site can grow with your company’s data storage needs in the months and years to come.
About the Author: Carla Mayhen is an energy efficiency consultant serving clients throughout the country. She consults with clients on green energy alternatives, data center cooling, emissions controls and other critical energy initiatives.