5 Data Centre Cooling Solutions

By: Lex Coors

The efficient management of data centres has become increasingly important as professionals have placed greater emphasis on the use of information technology in recent years. Business owners have had to find effective means of organising server racks and optimising the use of energy.

The traditional method of air distribution has been deemed inefficient and the leading manufacturers have developed advanced air conditioning units. Sensible, budget-conscious IT specialists are reviewing alternative approaches.

Below you will find some of the options available:

1. Free Air Cooling

Professionals who've been put off by the high costs of integrating air conditioning units have utilised the ‘free air cooling’ method. This involves the filtering and circulation of cold air from the outdoor environment. The cold air can be drawn from rivers, lakes and other water sources. However, industrial air conditioning units must be used if the extracted 'free air' is too cold.

2. Evaporative Cooling

People have traditionally adopted the method of evaporative cooling to regulate the temperature of their homes. This is a simple process which involves the evaporation of warm air and circulation via electronic coolers. However, evaporative cooling systems are far cheaper to run and maintain than the alternative air conditioners. They are a particularly sensible option for businesses based in hot and humid areas.

3. Liquid Cooling

It is an unfortunate truth that liquid and electronics don't generally mix. However, data centre engineers are now beginning to realise the multiple benefits of liquid cooling systems. It is little wonder considering the relative efficiency of air/liquid heat exchangers. Leading IT experts have also pointed out that the use of submersion cooling systems results in improved efficiency and computer functionality.  However, a number of businesses have been put off by the high costs of retrofitting and liquid supplies.

4. Containment Cooling

Containment cooling is an effective means of improving data centre energy efficiency. It entails the logical arrangement of aisles and the implementation of solid barriers for the separation of hot and cold air. It is also possible to install underfloor panels for the effective circulation of different air streams. The various methods of containment may be employed as a means of reducing the consumption of power and energy expenditure.

5. Hot Huts

Google developed the hot hut cooling system for the efficient storage of a huge and complex IT infrastructure. They organised the servers into groups of racks and rows. The individual units were sealed off from the floor in order to guarantee ultimate efficiency. Water based heat transfer methods were employed to limit the amount of wasted energy. Other companies have taken note of the cooling techniques adopted during this major project. However, it is worth pointing out that the hot hut system requires considerable maintenance.

If you’re interested in learning more about data centre operations, read our pages on colocation and our articles ‘Availability: how many 9s are enough?’ and ‘The cost of downtime.