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5 Factors to Consider for Data Center Environmental Monitoring

Updated on March 26, 2022
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What Are Data Center Environmental Standards

The data center environmental monitoring is vital for device operations. The data center architecture is divided into four layers where the equipment placed inside also affects the design of data center environmental standards.

  • Tier I defines data center standards for facilities with minimal redundancy.

  • Tier II provides redundant critical power and cooling components.

  • Tier III adds redundant transmission paths for power and cooling to redundant critical components.

  • Tier IV infrastructure is built on Tier Ⅲ and adds the concept of fault tolerance to infrastructure topology.

Enterprises must comply with fairly stringent environmental standards to ensure these facilities remain functional.

Evolution of Data Center Environmental Standards

As early as the 1970s and 1980s, data center environmental monitoring revolved around power facilities. For example, whether the environment where the power supply was located has proper isolation, whether the main power supply affected the operation of the overall equipment, but the cooling problem was rarely monitored. Some enterprises have explored cooling technologies to facilitate cooling in data centers, such as liquid cooling. Typically, enterprises used loud fans to control airflow. In some countries, the cost of electricity was high, so there was a greater emphasis on being able to supply enough electricity for a given system configuration.

In the 1990s, the power density of the rack became a considered issue of enterprise data center environmental standards. In the past, a simple power factor calculation could yield the required cooling value for a data center, but accurate cooling values could not be provided by the increasing rack densities. At this point, enterprises had to re-plan the airflow patterns of data center racks and equipment. This required IT managers to know more statistics when designing a data center, such as pressure drop, air velocity, and flow resistance.

By the early 20th century, power densities were still increasing, and thermal modeling was seen as a potential answer to optimizing the cooling of data center environments. The lack of necessary data implied that temperature data typically was collected after data center construction and then IT managers needed to make adjustments based on that information. Enterprises should choose the correct thermal model of equipment when building a data center to enhance data center environmental monitoring. Here are several environmental control methods when building a data center.

5 Factors in Data Center Environmental Controls

For ensuring the reliable operation of IT equipment within a rack, the primary concerns for monitoring and controlling data center environmental conditions are temperature, humidity, static electricity, physical and human safety. Moreover, data center environmental impact resulted from these factors not only on the ecological environment but also on data center security, energy efficiency, and the enterprise social image.

Temperature Control

Thermal control is always a challenging issue for data centers, as servers emit heat when they are running. If they are paralyzed by overheating, it will cripple data center operations. Temperature control can check if equipment is operating within the recommended temperature range. A temperature sensor is an effective method to solve temperature control. Placing them in strategic locations and reading the overall temperature allows IT managers to conduct temperature control promptly.

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Humidity Control

Humidity control is closely related to temperature levels. High humidity can corrode hardware. Low humidity levels can cause electrostatic arcing problems. For this reason, cooling and ventilation systems need to detect and control the relative humidity in the room air. ASHRAE recommends operation within a dew point range of 41.9 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit with a maximum relative humidity of 60%. Datacenter designers need to invest in systems that can detect humidity and water near equipment to better monitor cooling fans and measure the presence of airflow during routine management. Of course, it is also possible to use a set of computer room air conditioner(CRAC) units on larger facilities to create consistent airflow that flows throughout the room. These CRAC systems typically work by drawing in and cooling heat, then expelling it as cool air through vents and air intakes leading to the server.

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Electricity Monitoring

Static electricity is also one of the threats in the data center environment, it is an invisible nuisance. Some newer IT components can be damaged or completely fried by less than 25 volts of discharge. If this problem isn’t addressed, it might result in frequent disconnections, system crashes, and even data corruption. Unexpected bursts of energy in the form of electrostatic discharges may be the greatest threat to the performance of the average data center. To prevent such incidents, businesses must install energy monitors that are strategically located to detect the buildup of static electricity.

Fire Suppression

A comprehensive fire suppression system is a must-have feature in data center environmental standards. If an entire data center is to be protected from disaster, data center designers need to take security measures from fire and fire suppression systems to physical and virtual systems. Fire suppression systems are subject to regular testing and active monitoring of the data center to ensure that they will indeed do their job in the clutch.

Security Systems

Data security of data center environmental standards is also very important. IT departments must institute a limit that keeps intruders away from buildings as well as server rooms and the racks they are in. Setting up a complete range of physical security is a desirable method—from IP surveillance systems to advanced sensors. If unauthorized personnel is detected entering a building or server rack, it will alert data center managers.

Summary

The purpose of data center environmental monitoring is to provide a better operating environment for facilities and avoid some unplanned cases that affect the business of enterprises. For the above data center environmental controls, it is beneficial for enterprises to maintain data center security when designing data centers, which is conducive to data center management. Also, it properly controls the data center environmental impact on ecology and energy efficiency.

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