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Monday, February 18, 2013

How Important Is Airflow In A Server Room?

One of the main challenges in a server room involves being able to keep servers and cabling cool; overheating within a server room can cause significant damage, and can result in expensive repairs. In this context, it’s important to have a range of different options available for improving airflow management, while also checking on the overall environment of a server room, and making use of technologies that can make it easier to reduce damage.

Server rooms can become a danger when multiple stacks and racks of server are crowded together in a small room; depending on the size of the room, and the number of servers, restricted airflow can cause equipment to heat up, making it more likely for it to burn out and lose valuable data. At the same time, overheating can result in humidity and water dripping onto cables; this is a particular problem if servers are stacked too closely together without enough space between them.

When putting together a server room, it’s consequently important to know what the optimum temperature should be for a space, and how to best improve the flow of air around a room to prevent heat from building up. In most cases, you don’t want to go below 10 degrees, or above 28 degrees - a server room that is too cool will produce dryness, and the risk of static damage. Google recommends about 26.7 degrees as an optimum temperature for a server room.

So What About Solutions?

There are many solutions available for creating an airflow management system. Some of these solutions are server based, with racks and cabinets designed with enough space between different shelves and panels; cooling fans can also be installed within racks, while blanking panels can prevent hot air from becoming trapped. Fans on the outside of racks, and on walls, can also help to blow away dust, while proper cable insulation and shielding will prevent a build up of heat.

Other solutions to improving airflow within a server room include air conditioners that can maintain a consistent temperature; some air conditioning units can be used to create cold corridors around server racks. Environmental monitoring sensors can similarly be installed that check for humidity and temperature problems, and can be adjusted to make sure that the right amount of air is circulating in a server room at any time.

It’s also possible to use computer programs to remotely monitor thermal changes within a server room; this approach is particularly useful for identifying hot spots, and for developing audits that can work out where pressure and humidity levels are becoming dangerous. These audits can also be used to decide whether to change the structure of server racks and cabinets, as well as whether to adjust floor tiling and ceiling ventilation.

Another alternative for airflow management, and one that works well if you have limited space for a server room, is to switch part of your server needs to virtual cloud servers. Doing so will reduce the amount of processing power you need on site, and can mean that you don’t have to invest as many resources into cooling down your server rooms. In any case, though, it’s crucial to have some kind of airflow management system in place.
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Rob James loves blogging about which netgear router you should choose, selecting the correct data racks and many other nerdy networking issues.  Rob can often be found tinkering with new equipment and reading up on the latest developments.
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