The Wizardry Behind Command Center Curtains

Hardware in the Coldest Equipment Room Can Still Fall Victim to Heat
Manufacturers routinely warn of the shortened lifespan of their products due to excessive heat buildup. The correlation between operating temperatures and system stability has been well documented.

For example, a Sept. 25 article in the computer industry publication InformationWeek (“New Cooling Technologies Tackle Data Center Heat,” by Darrell Dunn) says data center managers are doing a poor job of handling heat ventilation. The article cited an Uptime Institute study of 19 computer rooms with more than 200,000 square feet of combined floor space. According to the study, the computer rooms were outfitted with 2.6 times the required cooling capacity, but wasted more than 60 percent of the capacity because of poorly designed layouts and airflow, among other deficiencies. As a result, more than 10 percent of the server racks ran too hot.

A lot of the heat buildup can be attributed to rack doors. One simple reason: computer-based racked equipment is fairly deep, which means there is little airflow from the bottom to the top of the rack. Consequently, heat from one unit cannot naturally rise and escape from the rack. Second, most equipment is now ventilated from front to back. This means doors, even vented ones, obstruct the flow of air in the front and trap it inside the rear of the rack. As the heat has nowhere to go, it builds up in the rack. Hard drives and other sensitive components housed in equipment rooms that might otherwise be sufficiently cooled can still suffer high failure rates. The culprit? Plexiglas front doors and steel rear doors with a limited number of ventilation slots.

Of course, it is possible to design enclosed racks that handle heat dispersion well. The Foxwoods Casino Resort in Ledyard, Conn., has custom-built racks that include forced, climate-controlled air ventilation through the top and bottom, and sufficient depth to ensure the equipment chassis do not block the airflow. A less costly alternative is to design racks without front or rear doors and focus on circulating air through the aisles between the rows of racks.

Whatever the alternative, ensure that professionally designed heat dissipation is part of your rack room design. Seek out help from the rack or equipment manufacturers, or consult a qualified expert for assistance if needed. ?

Accurate Power Draw Computation Can Prevent System Snafus
Digital video has introduced another nasty side effect to the security industry. While no one is mourning the death of the VCR, we have effectively traded 20W video recorders for 1,000W encoder/server/redundant array of independent disks (RAID) combinations. While this is not a 1:1 replacement, and a digital node does the work of many VCR’s, the power usage has gone up, not down. Some of this power is used to provide the nifty features only digital systems can offer, but a good portion of the larger power requirements generate more heat.

This added power demand forces integrators to consider how and where power is allocated. One consideration that has become more important with the advent of computer-based systems is the requirement for a clean uninterruptible power supply (UPS). (UPS is discussed at length in this month’s “Enterprising Solutions” column on page 24).

UPS or not, th

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