Data Center Research; How to Upgrade Aging Facilities

Data center research has shown that facilities in the United States have the highest average building age. Facility owners must ensure that older data centers are still functioning optimally in today’s rapidly changing technology sector, and this poses a great challenge to the sector.

Researchers also found that nearly 25 percent of all data center services utilized by U.S. clients come from outside sources, creating an ongoing shift in the market that is poised to continue. Data center operators that are spending increasing amounts of their budgets on upgrades can consider implementing several cost-effective measures to upgrade their data centers and prevent losing clients.

Tips for Updating Aging Data Centers
Adjusting the temperature and cooling system within an older structure can help modernize the facility. Data center temperatures have been steadily rising according to recommendations from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Whereas in the past these facilities were kept at a considerably low temperature due to concerns about overheating IT equipment, research has shown that facility operators can raise the temperature in the server room to conserve energy while still ensuring that computing systems are safe. ASHRAE released revised guidelines in 2011 which noted that the recommended temperature range is 59 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or as high as 113 degrees F depending on the type of data center and the equipment housed there.

Raising the facility temperature does not require additional spending, and operators can benefit from reduced electricity consumption. This strategy allows for other advantageous changes in an aging data center as well.

“In addition, the extended temperature range also makes is possible to adopt alternative or supplemental cooling schemes … such as free air or air/water economizers,” TechTarget contributor Stephen J. Bigelow wrote. “Cooling technologies that might not have even been considered when your data center was first built.”

Another step to modernize an older facility is to review and optimize the data center maintenance plan. When taking another look at upkeep efforts, decision makers should be sure they have a well trained and capable maintenance staff that has a full understanding of what it takes to keep systems functioning optimally. In addition, supervisors should implement goals to be achieved by the maintenance program to keep workers focused on upgrading and improving the data center. These efforts can also prevent unnecessary spending, as keeping IT equipment and other systems well maintained can extend their service life.

Managers can also review upgrades to the data center layout. Adjusting the location and arrangement of machines can improve the use of facility space and provide additional resources for future growth. For example, server cabinets can be rearranged to more effectively use vertical space, conserving floor space for new technology. Adjusting server workloads to ensure that systems are being utilized effectively can help optimize layout efforts.

Eaton suggests evaluating the replacement of older MEP infrastructure like UPS, PDU, HVAC, and airflow equipment. Newer models may offer more cost effective operation, lower power consumption or loss, and lower maintenance costs. Data center air flow assessment and strategy development can also enhance physical space utilization as well as cooling effectiveness.

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