Its been exceptionally hot this summer in Ontario. We have had several weeks of drought, above normal temperatures and air conditioning systems have been straining to keep up with the challenge of cooling homes, businesses, public and private spaces.
So how is your IT network server doing?
Especially in smaller installations it is common to see the 'server room' be put into a closet or other tight space tucked away in the office. Concern for the generated heat from the devices in the server area is not a big consideration.
Just like ourselves, computer equipment struggles when things get too hot. While IT network servers have fan systems designed to take the heat out of the box and disband it into the surroundings, when the area that houses the server increases in heat itself this becomes a bigger challenge.
Here are several cooling strategies which can be deployed to ensure optimal uptime and efficiency and to give your hardware a break...especially in challenging heat times. Remember, every kilowatt of electricity consumed by the IT equipment creates a kilowatt of heat that must be removed from the space to maintain uptime.
For power levels less than 700 watts total in the server area:
Passive venting is effective...making sure there are simple holes or vents to permit flow of ambient air.
For power levels between 700 and 2000 watts:
Fan assisted venting is recommended. Using multiple fans will permit high loaded devices in this range of consumption.
For higher density closets with VOIP routers and multiple servers:
Fan assisted ventilation is recommended. If the load starts to grow beyond 2000 watts then secondary air conditioning should be considered. This is especially true if the air outside of the IT network closet is not air conditioned or is stale and static. Picking the right air conditioning tool to maintain and constant temperature no matter how pushed the IT equipment becomes a consideration.
UPS in closet:
When a UPS is in place to support the equipment with a power failure, consideration to keep the cooling system operating as well must be considered if the UPS will maintain operation beyond a few minutes.
Dealing with excess heat is a consideration which often gets overlooked with IT network server room installations especially when they grow incrementally as the needs for equipment expand. The initial location only houses a server or two but over time additional equipment gets loaded in. Higher capacity routers, switches, additional servers, backup devices, and other tools get added to the mix. Each produces its own heat. The total starts to add up and temperature levels start to go up, but often without being noticed.
Clearing the air is an important component of any IT network closet setup. Ignoring it will lead to equipment failure, downtime and poor performance.
One final thought. If you are counting on the building air conditioning to keep your server closet cool enough, think about the impact of evening, overnight and weekend cooling setbacks. If the building temperature is permitted to rise over night or weekend, beyond a safe level for your network closet, then you need to look at supplementary cooling of some type. The servers etc. continue to produce heat 24/7 even if no one is around the office to use them. This hidden load can have an impact on equipment life and reliability.
Is it too hot to work in your server room? Is the heat catching up with your IT network reliability? Are there other locations you have components where heat impact is not identified?
Share your thoughts below......
Photo credit: Tomascastelazo Wikimedia Commons