Find Out How to Cap Data Center Energy Consumption with sensors

By Sanjay Motwani, Regional Director, Raritan APAC, Raritan International

Data centers are power gluttons. With the explosion of digital content, big data, e-commerce and internet traffic, data centers have become one of the fastest growing power consumers across the world. According to the latest research from Research and Markets, the energy consumption rate of data centers is rising due to rapid international expansion and the need for more efficient power services. The market for data center power services is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.8% to $20.44 billion until 2020.

Data centers consume 3% of global electricity supply—416.2 terawatts—and account for 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Power delivery, electricity consumption and heat management are key challenges in data center environments. Small changes in environment temperature can result in a significant reduction in energy consumption. Hence, environmental monitoring can help data center managers by providing a real-time, visual map of its resources and alert managers to potential problems like the presence of water, smoke, and open cabinet doors. Such sensors can help prevent overcooling, undercooling, electrostatic discharge, corrosion and short circuits. Here are the top five ways in which environment sensors can help data center managers:

Save on cooling using temperature sensors

Data center equipment must stay within certain temperature ranges to function and prevent hardware failure. They need air-conditioning and ventilation to keep them cool. A data center manager can use the temperature data to optimize the cooling system, identify hotspots and shut down one or more units if needed. The temperature sensors at the rack inlet will provide far more accurate and real-time views of data center temperatures compared with Computer Room Air Conditioner (CRAC) readings. Some temperature and temperature/humidity sensors are designed to follow American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) sensor placement guidelines for accurate and complete readings of top, middle and bottom of racks.
Increase uptime by monitoring airflow

The data center manager can achieve a lot of cost savings by reducing the airflow to only what is required. Airflow sensors let the data center managers monitor cooling airflow and hot air return to ensure the cooling system is functioning properly. They also ensure that the airflow is at the right level so the entire rack receives inlet cooling air. Differential air pressure sensors can help the data center manager to ensure that adequate cooling airflow is provided. These sensors can identify air pressure differences that could lead to hot aisle / cold aisle partition leaks and can be used to control CRACs. Underfloor air pressure sensors provide feedback to Computer Room Air Handlers (CRAH), CRACs, or the building management system that alters fan speed as necessary to meet the underfloor pressure set point.

Secure cabinet racks with contact closure sensors

Ensure the safety of your cabinet racks by using contact closure sensors. Contact closure sensors can be used to trigger an event so that a webcam snaps a picture whenever it detects that the cabinet door has been opened. Dry contact closure sensors have provisions for third-party devices like smoke detectors that will alert the data center manager to fires and detect electronic door opening and locking. This will help ensure equipment changes are executed securely.

Receive environment alerts

Data center managers can set thresholds and alerts to monitor onsite, remote, or lights-out facilities to ensure equipment is operating in safe conditions. Environment sensors such as humidity and water sensors will help protect valuable devices and eliminate costly downtime from IT equipment failure. Humidity sensors help you to maintain proper humidity levels and avoid electrostatic discharge (ESD) problems when humidity is low and condensation problems when humidity is high. Water sensors detect if there is a water leak from external sources or from pipes in a water-cooled rack.

Design and modify data center infrastructure

Environmental sensors let you spot trends, get alerts, improve data center availability, and save energy. They will help to discover and reclaim unused data center capacity and defer capital investments in equipment and facilities. The use of environment sensors alongside Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solution will let the data center manager monitor temperature in real-time and calculate potential savings. Optimizing the data center ecosystem will help in reducing operational costs, and improving your power usage effectiveness (PUE).

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