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Have you ever felt the underside of a laptop after a couple of continuous hours of usage? It can be hot to the touch. Now imagine how hot a large server can get — then scale that up to include entire data centers capable of powering computing at an enterprise level.

Without adequate data center cooling, companies face some serious technical and business risks. Here are three potential dangers for IT and leadership teams to keep in mind.

Hot Spots Emerge

You may be surprised to learn how much of the average IT budget data center cooling commands. According to one expert from Schneider Electric, cooling is the most significant power drain in data centers. It may take up 40 to 50 percent of all the power consumed by the servers.

But it’s important to remember this substantial budgetary demand is no reason to take shortcuts or extreme cost-cutting measures. Doing so almost always ends up more expensive in the long run because your costly equipment can degrade faster or meltdown completely without a proactive approach to data center cooling.

The first risk of inadequate data center cooling is the emergence of hotspots or specific areas in need of specialized cooling strategies to prevent overheating.

A couple of ways to combat hotspots include:

 

  • Blocking off unused spaces so cold air is forced to go where you need it most
  • Organizing the cords and wires attached to the backside of your servers to avoid blockages
  • Use spot cooling for targeted refrigeration
  • Create aisles for cold air containment to make cooling more efficient
  • Improve power monitoring and distribution so you can understand how to cool most effectively

Hardware Damage

The eventual — or sudden — results of allowing hotspots to exist within a data center are the potential damages to servers and hardware. Data centers are by no means cheap to build or maintain; they represent a significant investment on behalf of the company. Case in point: It’s estimated that the global data center construction market will have reached nearly $23 billion by 2019. The last thing organizations want to do is risk these expensive pieces of equipment melting down due to high temperatures, as the cost to repair or replace this hardware tends to be very high.

Business Downtime

Even some of the most established companies have struggled with maintaining optimal temperatures within their datacenters. Back in 2013, many Microsoft customers found they were unable to access their email accounts through Hotmail and Outlook for about 16 hours. The culprit? A firmware upgrade that “resulted in a rapid and substantial temperature spike in the data center,” as The Verge reports. The overheating was severe enough to activate safeguard measures, which ended up prohibiting customers from being able to access their mailboxes.

Depending on the nature of your business, downtime can be costly in terms of missed revenue. But customer frustration — plus an erosion in confidence and trust — can end up costing even more in terms of diminished loyalty. In other words, it can be challenging to restore customer confidence and trust if your services become unavailable due to a mistake like data center malfunction. This underscores why it’s so important to get data center cooling right from.

Datacenter cooling is far more than a luxury or afterthought. It’s a challenge central to the very functioning of enterprises today. Without an adequate approach to cooling, your business risks the formation of hotspots that can lead to hardware malfunctions and business downtime. Luckily there are advanced solutions on the market today meant to help keep data centers small and large at optimal temperatures.