I recently had the opportunity to discuss an application for a retrofit containment system installed into an existing data center with a sales person. Not an uncommon story, given the effectiveness of separating cold and hot air streams in the data center to reduce cooling energy consumption. The part of the story that stood out for me was that the sales person enthusiastically related how the end user realized an instant payback on the containment system and had money left over. It sounded too good to be true. My first thought was just how badly is this data center being operated that the retrofitting of a containment system would yield an instant payback and still have money left over???
When it comes to running an efficient operation, small data centers have many of the same concerns and challenges as their larger counterparts. One of the greatest challenges that managers of small data centers have is that they typically have limited resources in terms of technology, staffing, and financial support.
This can leave a small data center more vulnerable to inefficiencies, inflexibility for growth, and the potential for system failures. One example we run into on a regular basis occurs when the manager of a legacy data center needs to obtain power consumption and environmental data as a result of a cost reduction initiative, or difficulty finding capacity for new applications. This typically occurs in data centers that are older, may have between 20 and 30 racks, and have grown, despite best intentions, in unintended ways.