In a data center, uptime is the over-arching priority that trumps all other concerns. Even before assessing energy efficiency, data center managers must first ensure the full reliability of their facility. This means that, ideally, every strategy deployed in a data center must contribute to reliability. Given this premium, it’s surprising that the reliability benefits of aisle containment are often overlooked.
Indeed, data center managers will typically point to “energy efficiency” as the primary justification for deploying aisle containment strategies in their facilities. This is understandable, as far as it goes - containment is a proven approach to maximize power and cooling resources. But this mindset fails to account for what aisle containment fundamentally offers: more reliable uptime.
How does greater network reliability stem from deploying aisle containment in a data center? Think about it this way: Combined with best practices at the cabinet level, all the cold air from the air conditioning (AC) units has to go through the equipment. This air has a uniform temperature from the bottom of the cabinet to the top. That gives your equipment a reliable temperature intake and a predictable operating environment. The effect of this is to maximize the uptime of your equipment because you have mitigated recirculation and bypass airflow, and have reduced the potential problem of an equipment shutdown due to high temperatures.
Moreover, aisle containment solutions are increasingly easy to fit within any data center. The newest containment solutions are configurable and field-modifiable offerings with materials that data center managers can repurpose to a new application or configuration. So if the components are used once, they can be taken down and reused when doing a refresh. This means you don’t have to get a new containment kit and a new design, allowing you to construct a solution in one instance, then repurpose the components to build something else when the application changes.
Aisle containment will drive a favorable ROI in a data center. It also delivers multiple ancillary benefits: energy efficiency; sustainability; ease of deployment and install; and customizable solutions that can be repurposed. But before assessing the value of any of these benefits, it’s important to remember the core fundamental value of aisle containment: it increases reliability in a data center.
Dan Gosselin is product manager at Legrand North America.