Data center containment strategies have been growing in popularity over recent years, and are now widely regarded across the IT industry as the best place to start when looking for energy efficiency best practices in the data center or server room. When it comes to containment however, many data center managers don’t know which approach is best for their respective data center.

Many industry professionals have debated over which containment strategy is best, however Technology Connection believes that the best containment strategy largely depends on the application itself. Each unique server room and data center requires a unique solution, with some benefitting more from hot aisle containment, and others possibly limited to cold aisle containment because of physical facility constraints and limitations. Technology Connection believes the most important thing to consider with containment however is that improperly implemented containment can be as bad or worse than no containment at all. Availability can be seriously affected when airflow dynamics and pressure differentials are not properly accounted for.

Why Aisle Containment?

At their most basic level, hot and cold aisle containment are refinements of the now standard hot/cold aisle layout found in most data centers. Hot/cold aisle server rack layouts were conceived as a strategy for more efficient cooling of the data center. In this type of layout, each successive aisle is designated as either hot or cold. In the cold aisles, server racks are aligned so equipment inlets face each other on opposite sides. In the next aisle, both face each other on opposite sides, and in the next both banks of server racks exhaust hot air. In the most common implementations, cool air from the CRAC units flows under a raised floor system called a plenum, to perforated floor tiles. These tiles which are only located in the cold aisles, allow the cooling air to reach the server inlets in the front of the racks, flowing through the IT equipment, and exhaust into the hot aisle. These layouts deliver increased energy efficiency by allowing for higher temperature set points. By concentrating the cool air where it is needed most, CRAC units are able to operate at several degrees higher and a much lower energy cost.

Hot Aisle Containment

Goal: To capture the hot exhaust from IT equipment and direct it to the CRAC units as efficiently as possible. 

  • Good for new data centers with existing hot air return systems.
  • Density supported dependent on overall server room environment.

Cold Aisle Containment

Goal: To isolate the cold air in a “room” of its own. 

  • Good for existing data centers without hot air return.
  • Focuses on cooling IT equipment instead of the entire room.
  • Density supported dependent on overall server room environment.

So, if you are a data center manager looking for efficiencies that containment could provide, please feel free to reach out to Technology Connection. We can provide you more information for your specific data center on how this solution could be right for you.