Why Intelligent Airflow Management is Key to Data Center Cooling

In a recent article from Data Center Knowledge, "Using DCIM to Achieve Simplicity in the Face of Complexity", Lara Greden characterizes the dynamic environment of a data center as an 'ecosystem' wherein "changes to one part of the system impact other parts". Greden critically examines industry-wide reliance on the "heroic" feats of individuals to carry out manual walk-throughs or visual inspections that leave critical systems unattended. According to Greden, today's data center has never had a greater need for "real-time intelligence based on accurate data," to mitigate the risk of human error. This statement resonates with the 2013 Ponemon institute downtime study, which determined that 22% of data center outages were the result of human error. The world of data centers is rapidly evolving in complexity and IT demand; facilities have become more densely packed with electronics and operational stakes for downtime are now averaging at $7,900 per minute of unavailability. With this in mind, DCIM and other holistic solutions are becoming vital safeguard mechanisms for the health of the Data Center 'ecosystem', as Greden put it.

Alongside DCIM software integration solutions, there are other intelligent approaches to managing your data center environment. Cooling is indisputably the most critical factor for the functioning and overall efficiency of the data center. If we extend this biological metaphor further, servers are akin to a kind of plant living in the contained expanse of an artificial environment; like the flora in a greenhouse, servers require very specific climate conditions to thrive.

In a data center, servers, like organisms, consume energy resources at a rate determined by their level of activity (IT Load). The waste product of an active server is heat, which in the contained expanse of a data center, is transferred via the medium of air.
In this confined space, airflow is ultimately the vehicle behind heat elimination and the delivery of cooling. With this in mind, maximizing operational efficiency requires an intelligent system that can adapt airflow to match real-time cooling needs in target zones where IT load increases or cooling units fail. Localized, proactive cooling can mitigate the formation of hot spots by displacing heat for recirculation into cooling units.

At AdaptivCOOL, we call this approach Demand Based Cooling; a unique intelligent airflow management system that utilizes a robust sensor network, dynamic air-movers, and software to automate airflow management and deliver cooling when and where it is needed in the data center. Our software is automated to respond to climate changes in the data center and alert personnel in the event of a cooling unit failure.

We refined this intelligent approach to airflow management over the past two decades, with our technology brand founder, Degree Controls, Inc., a company that specializes in electronics cooling solutions at the board and chip level. We have applied the same engineering principles we developed for embedded board-level solutions to the macrocosm of the Data Center. Demand Based Cooling (DBC) is a smart complement to other automated DCIM systems, and can be easily integrated into existing data center infrastructures with proven benefits ranging from downtime protection, increased IT capacity, server performance and proven energy savings.

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