The Technology Connection team was recently put to the test by one of the industry leaders in communications and business outsourcing in an effort to help overcome a variety of cooling issues and inefficiencies. The client was looking for us to provide expertise and suggest the best approach, which would suit their specific needs. Similar to many other large corporations in the technology and IT industry, this client was facing some unique challenges inherent to the huge scale of their data center, as well as the inefficiencies that resulted from their facility’s own unique design and airflow. We recently sat down with one of our TC team members who worked with the client, Mitch J., to discuss the success story…

Q. What was the client’s situation when they reached out to Technology Connection?

A. The client had an existing 76,000 sq. ft. data center, 75% of which was populated and in use at the time they reached out to Technology Connection. They were using a total of 31 20-ton CRAC units to cool the data center, yet they were experiencing severe hot spots in the cold aisles. It was an extremely inefficient cooling process, which is why the client came to us looking for ways to eliminate the hot spots and find solutions. In addition to that, with all 31 CRAC units in operation, there was no redundancy in place for required maintenance that could arise if any one of the units were to have failed, so finding the right solution was imperative to sustaining the business and allowing operations to continue before bigger problems arose.

Q. Was there an opportunity for TC to help improve efficiency?

A. Definitely! When the client initially reached out to us, our recommendation was to run a CFD model so we could identify and design a solution that would best fit their unique needs and ongoing issues. After running the Current Condition CFD, there were numerous problems and reasons as to why the room was running so inefficiently at such high temperatures. With a 76,000 sq. ft. raised floor and 620 tons of cooling capacity traveling within the raised floor plenum, the air velocity was traveling so fast in the plenum that it really never had the opportunity to slow down and re-pressurize. With a very low static pressure, there wasn’t much airflow coming through the vented tiles, leaving them unable to cool the equipment racks. On top of that, there was a significant amount of cold/hot air mixing due to inefficiently placed vented tiles and cut outs underneath the racks. By running the CFD model, our Technology Connection team was able to pinpoint exactly where all of the cold air was traveling. Due to this, we found that almost 50% of their cooling capacity wasn’t even hitting the heat load.

Q. What was the solution?

A. Our Technology Connection team was able to design a solution that first aimed to slow down and rebalance the subfloor air in the raised floor plenum. By installing air balancers and placing them in strategically identified locations in the plenum, we were able to increase the static pressure while directing all the cold air to the heat load. With improved and balanced pressure, we were then able to re-design the vented tile layout with strategically placed higher percentage tiles that would maximize cold air distribution, and eliminate mixing and wasted cooling. Final steps included properly sealing up the floor with custom sized air stops for all different sized cut outs, and finally implementing blanking panels to eliminate short cycling within the racks.

Q. What efficiencies were gained as a result of the solution?

A. After implementing our unique solution, we were able to cycle off 6 of the 20-ton CRAC units for optimum energy savings, all while maintaining a 70% static pressure increase and 58% cooling capacity increase to the equipment. By cycling off 6 CRAC units, the client was able to save just over $50,187 annually. On top of that, thanks to ongoing solution maintenance over the last year, the client now has the ability to cycle off additional CRAC units as they have virtualized some of their equipment.

If you work in the technology or outsourcing industries and are looking for ways to improve the efficiency of your data centers and reduce costs on energy consumption, please contact our team. Technology Connection has a track record of provided the expertise to analyze your unique situation and challenges, and provide the best solutions that are right for you.