Data center facilities of all types must monitor power and cooling data to be responsive when things go wrong, but they don’t often analyze combined data to obtain operational efficiencies. While a data center’s function is to protect the servers and information it stores, its success is increasingly dependent on the kinds of operational data it produces and how this data is used to control and respond to issues.
Power and cooling metrics are necessary for data center operations
Having partial cooling or power metrics will not complete the “big picture” of facility health necessary to empower managers and operators to avoid downtime, maintain optimal conditions, and automatically adjust operation to increase efficiency.
In my experience, monitoring both power and cooling data together offers much more value than monitoring either one alone. Working in the field of data center efficiency, my team is consistently surprised to see that far too many data centers still have four to five different monitoring or automation systems running concurrently, each independently handling a different critical system (generators, HVAC, power distribution, server monitoring, temperature monitoring, etc.).
Unsurprisingly, because of this uncoordinated setup, data center operators tend to ignore the relationship between power and cooling information from these systems. They in turn also lose the opportunity to understand how their many integrated systems, DCIM tools, and pieces of equipment are running in relation to each other.
Retaining reliability and familiarity with individual critical systems versus implementing a holistic improvement is one common reason why facilities aren’t incorporating single-system solutions for keeping track of their energy data. The specific reasons are usually:
Data center owners don’t necessarily know what they need to monitor to get to a new, higher level of integrated information and data analysis that can create effective efficiency changes.
Those facility owners who do know what kind of information and data would be useful are often concerned that installation of the actual monitoring devices will create unacceptable risks for downtime by either requiring an extensive maintenance window to power down critical equipment or by inadvertently causing an unplanned shutdown during project installation.
Since this level of data mining and analysis is beyond industry best practices, review of the importance of gathering data and a detailed explanation about how the process can work should educate data center stakeholders. It will also illustrate how this kind of control system will dramatically improve facility efficiency and lower operational costs.
Coy Stine, Vice President of Fairbanks Energy's Data Center Division, was recently featured by Data Center Knowledge for this article that focuses on the value of monitoring both power and cooling data together within a single system in a data center. The piece also features a case study from one of our recent projects.