Efficient and Effective: The Redundant Pump System

redundant pump systemData102 is always looking for ways to reduce energy consumption. Increased efficiency means less environmental impact, lower costs for our customers, and peak performance from the servers. We also have to take into account the unique conditions that our high-altitude location can present. One system that we have in place to improve our efficiency is our redundant pump system, which helps to keep the datacenter cool while minimizing our power usage.

What Does the Redundant Pump System Do?
Our redundant pump system uses two alternating pumps to keep a mixture of water and glycol running from our computer room air conditioning units (CRACs) up to one of the 150-ton dry coolers on the roof.

The dry coolers exhaust the heat from the water/glycol mixture and the liquid flows back into the CRAC units to absorb the heat from the datacenter, and the cycle continues. Since the CRAC units must be running at all times to ensure that the datacenter doesn’t overheat—putting servers and other hardware at risk—the pumps have to keep pumping every day, all day long.

A redundant pump system allows us to keep our pumps maintained and functioning at peak efficiency. Only one pump runs at a time, allowing the other pump to receive regular maintenance. The smart controls that monitor the pumps will switch from one pump to the other if a problem is detected so that the flow of water/glycol mixture is never interrupted, which can cause power spikes or even damage to the system. These controls also ensure that the runtime of the pumps stays even so that one does not get overworked.

The Power of Variable Frequency Drives
Our redundant pump system also uses a variable frequency drive (VFD), which dramatically improves efficiency. The VFD tunes the pump like a throttle, allowing for different amounts of pressure to be used depending on the outside temperature. Regular readings are also taken to tune for pressure and heat. These continual adjustments ensure that the system is using the minimal power possible, that the motor is not being overly taxed, that coils are not being burned, and that there aren’t any shockwaves in the glycol/water mixture.

When choosing a Colorado datacenter, you want the assurance that costs are being kept low without sacrificing safe conditions for your hardware. Data102’s redundant pump system does just that. We continue to be the best datacenter in southern Colorado in part because we use these state-of-the-art systems to operate at peak efficiency.


Keeping It Cool – Advanced Airflow Systems

air flowWithout proper airflow systems in place, Data102’s hot aisle containment system and computer room air conditioning units (CRACs) would be ineffective. The entire design of our Colorado data centers revolves around creating a circuit of air from the CRAC units, into the servers, out through the ceiling, and back through the CRACs. A number of systems have to be put into place to accomplish this.

Data102 uses cold air and hot air plenums in the floor and ceiling to keep the air moving. The floor of our Colorado data center is raised from the ground, creating an open area beneath the servers that pressurizes and channels the cold air coming out of the CRAC units. This cold, pressurized air is directed up to the front of the servers through perforated panels in the floor. The cold air is then sucked directly into the front of the servers and exhausted out the back into a contained hot aisle.

The ceiling in the datacenter is dropped, creating a pressurized, open area above the hot aisles. The hot air rises into the hot air plenum, which creates a stacking effect that pressurizes the area and pushes the air directly into the CRAC units, where it is cooled and recirculated into the floor to continue the cycle. The heat removed from the air is transferred into glycol water lines and pumped out of the building to a 150-ton dry cooler on the roof.

The server cabinets are also vital to the airflow process in the datacenter. Blanking panels are used to close off open areas in the cabinets so that hot air doesn’t accumulate and create hotspots around the servers, which could lead to hardware malfunctions. In addition, proper installation and cable management allows the hot air to be effectively exhausted from the servers, as opposed to blocking airflow and trapping heat inside the cabinets.

All of these systems have been put into place to keep our datacenter operating as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. This benefits our customers and ensures that their servers operate at peak performance without jeopardizing any hardware. These systems are closely monitored by our team of specialized datacenter technicians, and routine readings and maintenance ensure their continued performance.

While we already have the best airflow systems in southern Colorado, we are continuing to look at new ways of improving efficiency. We will be making several improvements over the coming year that will make the airflow system even better, including underfloor air baffles to direct the cold air more efficiently and utilizing our rooftop misters during the warm months ahead. These improvements show Data102’s determination to continue offering the best collocation and IT services in southern Colorado.


CRAC Units: The Muscle Behind the Hot Aisle Containment System

CRAC Unit at Data102A vital cog in the cooling machinery of Data102 is the Computer Room Air Conditioning units (CRAC). The term “air conditioning” could conjure an image of a rattling box propping open a bedroom window, but CRAC units are large, expensive, sophisticated machines that keep perpetually hot areas cool—year round—with peak efficiency. Thanks to the economies of scale, Data102 is able to provide cool, climate controlled conditions for all of its servers at a much cheaper and more efficient rate than a single business could achieve.

The CRAC units are the linchpin of the hot aisle containment system. Hot air from the rear of the servers is contained in “hot aisles” and then cycled through the ceiling into the CRAC units, which cool the air using a water/glycol mixture similar to radiator fluid. The new cold air is recirculated under the raised floor in the datacenter and back to the front of the servers while the water/glycol mixture is piped up to the roof where a 150-ton dry cooler exhausts the captured heat. The end result is a datacenter operating at peak efficiency and temperature for all of its hosted servers.

This complex system requires over a dozen 10- and 20-ton CRAC units, all of which cost roughly $1000 per ton in addition to the installation, maintenance, and energy costs. Once installed, the machines are closely monitored by our professional datacenter technicians to ensure that the units are not only running, but also that they are running as energy efficient as possible.

All of this is in place to give your servers a temperature-controlled location in which to operate so that you don’t deal with service interruptions. It takes a lot of time, attention, and money for a single business to setup and maintain the proper conditions for a server. Simply throwing a server into a closet or next to an air conditioning unit will put you at risk of damaging your expensive equipment and potentially losing business. Those are not risks you want to take.

Colocating with Data102 will ensure that your servers run safely and efficiently. We have a number of controls in place to keep your hardware safe both internally and externally, and we offer services to make your web presence as hassle free as possible. But the cooling system and CRAC units are the heart of the infrastructure that makes us the best datacenter in southern Colorado.


Cool Running – Hot Aisle Containment at Data102

hot aisle curtains at data102The number one job of a data center is to keep the servers up and humming along, but this is not as easy as it may sound. Servers cannot simply be plugged in, stacked in a cabinet, and connected.

Not only must they be monitored, secured, and maintained, they must also be kept cool at all times, night and day, to ensure that the hardware stays intact and that service is not interrupted.

The infrastructure required to do this is costly and sophisticated. One of the main strategies used by Data102 to keep its servers cool and at peak efficiency is called hot aisle containment (HAC).

Like all electronics, bad things happen when servers get too hot, which can easily happen. Servers have fans similar to your home computer that take in cooler air from the front and blow hot air out the back. When servers are arranged haphazardly or in rows facing the same direction, they suck in hot air from the back of the other servers, meaning they can overheat very quickly.

This causes a number of problems:

  • Damaged CPUs and power supplies—even after just a few minutes of overheating
  • Potential data loss
  • System errors
  • Network interruption

All of these consequences in a data center can have a serious effect on a business’ productivity and profitability.

The Hot Aisle Containment Solution

The solution, then, is hot aisle containment. With hot aisle containment, servers are aligned in rows facing away from each other in alternating aisles so that they all blow hot air into the same space, which is contained by large plastic curtains. The hot air is then sucked out of these “hot aisles” and recycled through a large air conditioning unit called a CRAC (computer room air conditioning) that blows cold air up to the front of the servers from the floor. This cycle keeps the servers running at an ideal temperature (usually between 59 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit) at all times, regardless of weather or other factors.

Data102, the premier data center in Colorado Springs, uses hot aisle containment for a number of reasons:

  • To increase server longevity
  • Prevent data loss and connectivity issues
  • Maintain a cool datacenter overall
  • Improve the efficiency of the CRAC units
  • Create a chimney effect so that any excess hot air will rise out of the room.
  • Reduce energy costs

In order to ensure that our hot aisle containment system is doing the job, we monitor the temperature of each aisle and have checks in place to make sure that your server is always running at peak efficiency. These reports, along with our infrastructure experts, ensure that the servers keep humming, which means you stay connected with your customers.