Blog

2nd October 2018

Data centres need to keep a cool head when temperatures rise

We are experiencing higher maximum summer temperatures and longer warm spells in the UK and there is strong evidence that human-induced climate change is increasing the risk of heatwaves, and this can be challenging for data centres.

Most people don’t realise how much energy it takes to run a data centre. It’s not just the power needed to keep the racks and servers running, but the energy used by the cooling systems to keep everything at an optimal temperature.

In this blog post we explore why it’s crucial for businesses to understand the environmental systems of their data centre provider.

The implications of weather on data centres

Extreme weather can be a challenge for data centre operators. Regardless of whether temperatures are peaking or are dipping below freezing, data centres need to run a 24/7 temperature, humidity and power-controlled environment.

During Britain’s summer heatwaves, data centres will have used a considerable amount of energy to cool their critical IT load, and the efficiency with which they achieve this is often measured using PUE.   

The annual average PUE for Datum is 1.25 – for every 1kW of IT load, the site uses another 250w to cool and manage it.  At Datum, the environmental SLA within our data hall is a controlled between 18C and 27C. In practice the temperature only varied in July by 0.3C (23.1 – 23.4C). This was despite the outside temperature reaching almost 30C.

On the hottest day of July, Datum’s site PUE peaked at 1.4, which means that despite the ambient conditions, energy efficiency only decreased by 12% (from having to use more energy to keep the facility cool). This was achieved whilst maintaining the normal site resiliency our clients come to expect.

Diagram of Datum's energy efficient cooling system

Why energy efficient data centres matter

The energy efficiency of a data centre provider is important because the costs incurred by a data centre influence the pricing for clients. At Datum we have solutions in place designed to maximise energy efficiency for our datacentre, using cost-effective cooling technology, thus significantly reducing running costs and carbon footprint for both ourselves and our clients.

Part of Datum’s cooling solution involves using a flooded airflow approach. Traditional data centres utilise chilled water CRAC units to distribute the supply air under a raised access floor and employing cold aisle containment. The trouble with this type of cooling is its lack of energy efficiency and effectiveness at high power densities.

With the flooded air supply and separate ceiling return air path, we are able to achieve extremely energy efficient, predictable cooling for high and low densities. It also removes the need for a cooling plant and takes away the associated water service risks from the IT space.

Partner with a weather-resilient data centre

Whether it’s extreme heat, or cold, businesses should be aware of the environmental solutions their data centre providers have in place, as it’s fundamental in protecting their business-critical data while keeping costs down.

At Datum we are proud to be a green data centre, as supported by our various ISO credentials. If you’d like to learn more about how we maintain our energy efficiency and how that can benefit your IT migration, whatever the weather, contact us today.

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