Why our data centre clients aren’t feeling the heat as the temperatures rise

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The Met Office has predicted that 2023 will be hotter than 2022, and one of the warmest years on record.

Whilst this may be welcome news for UK citizens who have been exasperated by our disappointing summer weather in the past, it is not such good news for businesses with on premise data centre facilities as they try to control the temperature and mitigate some of the negative effects of heat on IT equipment:

Overheating and heat-related errors

Excessive heat can cause computer equipment, including servers, to overheat. When temperatures rise beyond the recommended operating range, the performance and reliability of the equipment can be compromised. Overheating can lead to system instability, increased error rates, and even hardware failures.

Reduced lifespan

Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can shorten the lifespan of computer equipment. The heat stresses the electronic components and can cause them to degrade faster, leading to premature failure. Heat-related failures can result in data loss, downtime, and costly repairs or replacements.

Increased energy consumption

Higher temperatures require more energy to cool the equipment. Cooling systems, such as air conditioning units or fans, need to work harder to maintain the optimal temperature range – leading to higher operational costs.

Thermal throttling

Modern computer systems often employ thermal management mechanisms to prevent overheating. When temperatures reach certain thresholds, the system may automatically reduce its performance to dissipate heat. This process, known as thermal throttling, can lead to decreased processing power and slower overall performance.

How data centres like ours mitigate the impact of higher temperatures

Purpose-built data centres are designed and built to minimise their carbon footprint and handle a wide range of environmental conditions, including extreme temperature. Maintaining optimal operating conditions is complex, but we have it all in hand:

  • Temperature management (cooling): Our controlled environment and energy efficient adiabatic cooling ensures the proper functioning and longevity of our clients’ equipment by maintaining the correct ambient temperature. Cooling systems need to work harder during a heatwave to dissipate heat, and they need to be capable of handling increased cooling demands during such events.
  • Energy efficiency: During heatwaves, optimising energy efficiency becomes crucial to minimise operational costs and reduce environmental impact – so our efficient cooling technologies come into their own.
  • Redundancy and backup: Power outages can be triggered by heatwaves when severe weather threaten physical power infrastructure. Therefore, backup systems are key to addressing any potential failures or disruptions. To ensure uninterrupted operations, we have redundancy built into our systems. This includes redundant cooling systems, backup power generators, and failover mechanisms.
  • Monitoring and preventive maintenance: Our facilities have extensive monitoring systems in place to continuously track temperature, humidity, and other environmental parameters. These systems help us to identify any anomalies or potential issues in real-time and take preventive measures to avoid equipment failures or downtime. Regular maintenance and inspections are paramount to ensure that our cooling infrastructure is functioning optimally.

Our data centre facilities

Our facilities are extremely well equipped to handle the challenges of hot temperatures and our energy efficiency innovations stand us in good stead as we try to minimise the impact of higher energy costs on our clients. For example, our highly resilient Tier 3+ Farnborough site is designed to operate with an annual PUE (power usage effectiveness) of 1.25 at full load (for reference, the annual PUE worldwide between 2007-2022 was 1.55 according to a survey by Statista). This PUE is harder to maintain during particularly hot weather but our highly efficient data centre design, combined with our power and cooling infrastructure, mean that even during August 2022, the fifth hottest August on record, we achieved a PUE of 1.28 at our London edge facility.

This power efficiency formula is one that will be replicated as we embark on the construction of a new data centre facility at both of our current locations (our London edge location in Farnborough, and our Manchester site), meaning that we can continue to provide our clients with the most resilient, cost-effective and energy efficient colocation. To find out more about how we can support you with highly secure, resilient, bespoke colocation solutions for your off-premise IT, please get in touch to discuss your requirements.