Data Center Cooling Market on the Rise, But Comes with Hidden Dangers

Data Center Cooling Market on the Rise, But Comes with Hidden DangersData center cooling is big business: according to a recent report by Mordor Intelligence, LLP, this market is set to grow at a CAGR of 12.50 percent from 2014 through 2019. But along with this increase is a hidden danger: dirt. Even the coolest building in the world can’t achieve maximum performance if servers or cooling units are contaminated. How do companies combat the problem of dirty data centers?

Chill Out

Part of this cooling market increase is due to the rise of large-scale data centers and colocation facilities, but the diversification of cooling technologies also plays a role. While industrial-scale air conditioners remain the go-to choice for many companies, some are now opting for new methods such as liquid chillers, hot huts, and the use of advanced algorithms to predict airflow and improve performance.

Staying cool is also paramount as the number of stacks in a given data center rises and providers look for ways to pack servers as closely as possible. And while ASHRAE recently increased the “safe” operating temperature for data center servers, many companies prefer to stay frosty and keep their technology alive and running for as long as possible. If this means using sea water, relocating to a northern climate or paying for the best in air chiller equipment it’s often worth the price. Dirt, however, can conspire to ruin ROI.

Gumming Up the Works

According to Tech Radar, data centers are not the haven of sterility and cleanliness many tech professionals might hope. In fact, there are a number of airborne threats including human hair, dead skin, dust, wool and other clothing fiber present in any data center which can clog up server heat sinks or air chiller returns, increasing the chance of premature failure. Unsealed concrete floors and backup batteries may pose risk of off-gassing fumes which can impact cooling performance, and ‘zinc whiskers’ which grow on high-heat metalwork may also prove problematic.

More worrisome? That the wrong cleaning methods can make this problem worse. The Data Center Alliance (DCA) of the United Kingdom has declared this problem a “real threat” and is now taking steps to help companies avoid cleaning mistakes, such as too-vigorous polishing which create dangerous, microscopic particle clouds or intense vacuuming which can suck in particles from nearby air ducts and contaminate a server room. Best bet? HEPA-filtered vacuums and other high-quality cleaning equipment that removes excess dirt but doesn’t damage anything else in the process.

Massive amounts of time, energy and effort go into keeping data centers cool and servers running at their peak. Don’t let a little dirt get in the way of performance: develop a best-practice cleaning plan to achieve maximum up-time.

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