Whether it is power, space, or cooling, stranded capacity can strangle your data center’s efficiency, blow-up your budget and put the brakes on new applications implementation. We have encountered many approaches to freeing stranded capacity ranging from the expensive…redeployment or reconfiguration of devices, or adding power or cooling capacity in an operational data center, to the ones requiring lower investment…additional perforated floor tiles, fans, or “meat locker” curtains to help improve cooling capacity utilization.
Frequently, we are asked to help reclaim stranded data center capacity. One approach that is relatively low risk and economical is to improve the utilization of existing cooling capacity. Installing blanking panels and sealing gaps in the raised floor is typically our first recommendation. Fast, simple, and inexpensive to implement, it is typically a first step and may not provide the level of separation needed to concentrate cooling air to accommodate higher densities. The next step is hot or cold aisle containment.
The energy saving benefit and capacity optimization benefits of containment are well documented. What is not clear is whether or not a well-engineered containment system can be retrofit into an existing data center. Accommodating different sizes and styles of cabinets, and navigating around obstacles such as building columns is time consuming, complicated, and depending on the quality of the containment system, can leave gaps that diminish expected performance. While containment systems designed to accommodate different sizes and types of cabinets in existing environments are becoming available, there is some concern regarding how easy they are to install and how well they perform.
We would be interested in your opinion on whether or not you have retrofit containment into your existing data center. If so, did it help you realize your goal of freeing up underutilized capacity? Were the costs, challenges, aesthetics, and risks associated with installing into an active data center worth the reward for rescuing stranded capacity?