Datacentre managers' perception of IT equipment’s tolerance to heat and humidity dates back to the 1950s, resulting in a waste of energy resources, according to the Green Grid – a not-for-profit industry consortium for datacentre energy-efficiency.
“The common perception of the IT network, server and storage equipment is that it operates within very tight environmental tolerances," said Harkeeret Singh, global head of energy and sustainability technology for The Green Grid. "But this is a belief based on datacentre practices from the 1950s.
“These practices are archaic, predicated as they are on maintaining constant and narrowly-defined temperature and humidity levels,” he added.
Modern equipment can tolerate periods of much greater heat and humidity, with no significant effect on failure rates, according to datacentres experts.
According to the experts, although datacentre facilities can be operated at temperatures as high as 25-26ºC, many still run below 20ºC wasting energy and becoming environmentally-inefficient.
In today’s datacentres, if periods of high humidity are balanced with periods of more favourable environmental conditions, then IT executives can reduce their reliance on mechanical energy-guzzling chiller units without any detriment to the overall failure rates, the Green Grid report showed.
Tips to making datacentres energy-efficient
The balance between periods of high humidity and favourable, cooler conditions can be struck by using water and air-side economisers for datacentres. Economisers are devices that help reduce energy consumption in an IT facility.
While datacentres may not be ready to completely do away with mechanical cooling such as computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units, the industry is making progress in minimising the need for air-conditioning with economisers, better datacentre designs and more efficient operating practices, Singh added.
The industry body urged datacentre operators and owners to take advantage of techniques such as free-air cooling in cooler, northern regions. These cooling techniques can help datacentre managers realise operational cost savings.