Living in the digital age has perennially increased the demand for data consumption. Companies are resorting to Data Centres for various functions be it computation, data storage, networking, or any business applications. They are heavily investing in Big Data and Data Analytics to ensure data is managed securely. The COVID only expedited the adoption of data centres by businesses.
Organizations relied heavily on internet-related services for the smooth functioning of the virtual work model. Thus, Big conglomerates to medium enterprises were agile enough to adopt data centres with alacrity. It enabled them to securely store critical and sensitive information via cloud-based services. In the process, Large Data Centres came to be categorized as a part of the mission-critical initiative for their essential services leveraging a wide range of sectors - banking, telecom, large firms, consultancies sectors, and even small businesses.
The demand for data centres has been constantly rising. It is estimated that the Indian data centres will double by 2025, reaching a size of 1,700–1,800 MW, as per the CRISIL report. As the adoption of the data centre has skyrocketed, companies must be attentive enough to look for the potential threat plaguing the efficiency of data centres. Data Centres inherently require manual intervention for close vigilance of threatening factors that can have a damaging effect on sensitive information.
There is a high probability of data centres experiencing a downturn owing to Airborne Molecular Contamination and atmospheric particulates like smoke and dust suspended in the air. The vapour gases such as sulphur, oxides of nitrogen, chlorine, ammonia, etc. trigger chemical contamination leading to airborne molecular contamination. Miniaturization of electronics has further led to increased downtime in data centres and server rooms as micro corrosion/ e-corrosion is far more prevalent if harmful gases go uncontrolled. Things can become unpleasant when high relative humidity combines with gases to form a corrosive element on the electronic circuits. It is responsible for the faulty operation, reliability and adversely affects the longevity of sensitive electronic process control equipment in industrial control rooms, besides data centres.
The major reason for this corrosion in data centres can be attributed to the harmful environment due to the infiltration of outdoor particulates and gaseous contaminants. But the corrosion problem intensifies if the facility is situated near landfill sites, sewerage/drains, high-density traffic, process industries, etc., These nearby pollutant sources continuously emanate highly corrosive gases like SO2, H2S, NO2, etc. that easily seeps into the air-conditioned server rooms data centres/ control rooms, switchgear rooms, process control and signalling/switching rooms. The contaminants together with high humidity can lead to micro-electronic corrosion and equipment malfunction which further causes downtime losses.
All the factors collectively lead to frequent breakdown cases in data centres and server rooms. The cost to restore the damages caused by the corrosive effect can take a toll on the mission-critical facility. Along with this, a lot of data is lost, which can further incur huge revenue loss for the company. Corrosion invariably accounts for substandard processes, additional maintenance, costly repairs, and unplanned downtime. Adding to the already existing problems, in recent times, even the OEMs have stopped offering annual maintenance contracts for expensive cards.
To curb the looming threat around the data centres, companies must install DataCenter Air Purifier (DAP) and advanced Gas Phase Filtration systems to protect the data equipment and servers from contamination. The advanced systems are adept at protecting the Datacom equipment and servers by enabling the passage of contaminant-laden air stream through a gas adsorbent impregnated with neutralizing chemicals placed in a properly designed housing. The systems inhibit the damage to the microcircuitry of PCBs by filtering out corrosive gases. Additionally, dehumidifiers in data centres help in maintaining the humidity at optimum levels to control the amount of moisture in the air and prevent condensation on equipment.
In the processes to control corrosion in data centres, media testing is very important. It is well supported with corrosion coupons to detect the influx of gases and identify if there is corrosion in the server room. Likewise, there is ACM – Atmospheric Corrosivity Monitor, which identifies the corrosive gases that are present and also specifies the percentage on which they are available. It notifies about the corrosivity level namely, G1, G2, G3, G4, etc. based on the criticality of the gases. In this mission-critical initiative, India is well-equipped with media testing and lab services that control the corrosion menace with its ability to conduct predictive maintenance.
Considering that downtime of data centres can be very detrimental for the business, it is favourable for companies to install quality air solutions to control moisture and contamination in server rooms thereby ensuring the smooth functioning of the data centre facilities.
The article has been written by Vijay Chaudhry, President, Bry-Air