The modern data center relies on its cooling and power consumption technologies to keep pace with its ever growing footprint. The biggest problem that data centers face in this area, however, is that necessary facilities improvements are rarely a consideration early on in the deployment game. Add in the fact that the cooling principles used in most data centers today were developed more than three decades ago, and it’s no wonder that so many data centers are scrambling just to try to keep things at an acceptable level.
There are a number of different areas in which data center cooling is going to face significant challenges, both today and going forward. They include:
• Adaptability and scalability. Your data center’s cooling needs must be met today, but also going forward. You need to make sure that your cooling solutions are adaptable to various possible future technologies, and that they can be scaled to grow as your data center grows.
• Availability. If your cooling systems go down, your servers go down. You can’t afford to be without your core business applications, so by extension you can’t afford to be without your cooling solutions.
• Lifecycle costs. Unlike many of the types of equipment and solutions you’re going to manage in IT, cooling solutions have a very different lifecycle costs. You’re dealing with a different animal here, so make sure you get accurate information from your vendors about what to expect.
• Maintenance and Serviceability. Cooling is one area you probably aren’t going to be able to maintain in-house. That means you need to bring in expertise, either from other areas of your business or from outside vendors, to keep your cooling systems operating correctly.
• Manageability. Being able to dynamically adjust your cooling output and being able to proactively recognize when a system isn’t functioning at peak efficiency are just as valuable for your cooling systems as they are for your servers and infrastructure.
Meeting these challenges is no easy feat, at times. You need to be able to implement solutions that are flexible, scalable and redundant. The challenges are in many ways similar to your infrastructure challenges, but the solutions typically rest outside of your IT staff.