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  • Dawn of Solar Data Centers?


    Major player projects can point to readiness, costs and benefits of solar power for data centers.


    Water, water everywhere,

    And all the boards did shrink.

    Water, water everywhere,

    Nor any drop to drink.                The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge


    Data center managers must feel a lot like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner when they look out the window (assuming their offices have any windows). Like the sailors on Coleridge’s journey, data center professionals are surrounded by free power from the wind, sun, water,the earth’s heat and biofuel, but none of it is usable as it exists to power the insatiable demands of the equipment inside the vessel. Despite this challenge, there have been several interesting projects regarding green energy sources. This piece in the data center energy series will explore solar photovoltaic to help determine if the technology is suitable to provide cost effective, reliable power to data centers.


    Temperature@lert Blog: Dawn of Solar Data Centers?
    Left: Engraving by Gustave Doré for an 1876 edition of the poem. "The Albatross," depicts 17 sailors on the deck of a wooden ship facing an albatross. Right: A statue of the Ancient Mariner, with the albatross around his neck, at Watchet, Somerset in south west England where the poem was written. (Link to Source - Wikipedia)


    Solar powered data centers have been in the news recently primarily due to projects by Apple and Google. In an effort to build green data center, Apple’s Maiden, North Carolina 500,000 sq.ft. site is powered in part by a nearby 20-acre, 20-megawatt (MW) solar array, The site also has a 10-MW fuel cell array that uses “directed biogas” credits as the energy source. (Link to Apple Source) The remainder of the power needed for the site is purchased from the local utility with Apple buying renewable energy credits to offset the largely coal and nuclear generated Duke Energy electricity. Apple sells the power from the fuel cells to the local utility in the form of Renewable Energy Credits used to pay electric utility bills. Apple expects that the combination of solar photovoltaic panels and biogas fuel cells will allow the Maiden data center to use 100% renewable energy or energy credits by the end of the year. Several lesser known companies have also implemented solar initiatives but the news is not so widespread.


    Temperature@lert Blog: Dawn of Solar Data Centers?
    Left: Apple Maiden, NC data center site shows solar array in green (Link to Source - Apple); Right: Aerial photo of site with solar array in foreground (Link to Source - Apple Insider)


    It will be instructive to follow reports from Apple to determine the cost-effectiveness of the company’s green approach. That being said, many if not most companies do not have the luxury of being able to build a 20-acre solar farm next to the data center. And most have neither the cash to invest in such projects nor the corporate caché of Apple to get such projects approved, so initiatives such as Maiden may be few and far between. Still, there’s a lot of desert land ripe for solar farms in the US Southwest. Telecommunication infrastructure may be one limitation, but California buys a lot of its electrical power from neighboring states so anything is possible.

    What about solar power for sites where the data center is built in more developed areas, is there any hope? Colocation provider Lifeline Data Centers announced their existing 60,000 sq. ft. Indianapolis, Indiana site will be “largely powered by solar energy”. (Link to Source - Data Center Dynamics) Author Mark Monroe’s piece titled Solar Data Center NOT “Largely Solar Powered” thought about his solar panel installation and took a at the numbers behind this claim. Lifeline is planning to install a 4-MW utility-grade solar array on the roof and in campus parking lot by mid-2014. Author Monroe takes a swag at determining how much of the data center’s power needs will be filled by the solar array.

    Assuming the site’s PUE is equal to the Uptime Institute’s average of 1.64 and taking into account the photovoltaic array’s operating characteristics (tilt angle, non-tracking), site factors (sun angle, cloud cover), etc., Monroe calculates that 4.7% of the site’s total energy and 12% of the overhead energy will be available from the solar installation. At an industry leading PUE of 1.1, the installation will provide 7% of the total energy and 77% of the overhead energy. Monroe notes that while these numbers are a step in the right direction, Lighthouse’s claim of a data center “largely powered by solar energy” is largely not based on the facts. His piece notes that even Apple’s Maiden site with 20 acres of panels only generates about 60% of the total energy needed by the site overhead and IT gear. Lifeline would need to add and extra 6-MW of solar capacity and operate at a PUE of 1.2 to operate at Net Zero Overhead.

    I am curious to see hard data from these and other solar photovoltaic projects for data centers that will show hard cost, performance data and financial incentives (tax considerations, power contracts, etc.) that the industry can review to determine if solar is the right approach for their electrical power needs. Although such disclosure is unlikely due to competitive considerations, it would greatly assist the industry to help promote such green initiatives to help take the spotlight off of headlines criticizing the “power hungry monster”.

    All efforts to improve industry efficiency and reduce energy consumption are steps in the right direction. Companies like Lighthouse Data Centers that don’t have the deep pockets of Apple or Google are taking steps toward the goal of Net Zero Overhead. The challenge for data center operators that initiate green energy or efficiency based projects will be to boast about these efforts to make headline grabbing claims that may not be well supported by the data. As Launcelot Gobbo tells Old Gobbo in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, “but at any length truth will out.” Green powered and energy independent are claims that need to be examined carefully to maintain industry credibility and good will or “truth will out.”

    Temperature@lert FREE IT Monitoring Guide

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  • The Do's and Don't of Particle Filters and the effect on the IT space

    What dust? I don’t see no stinking dust!



    Dust Accumulation in a Dell Laptop (Source)


    What particle filters do, what they don’t do, and how it affects filter selection for IT spaces.

    Up to now, this series has discussed particle filtration in data centers. All IT spaces, including computer, telecom, server, and instrument rooms require particle filtration in their air handling systems for optimum performance.  But why is this so?

    Earlier it was mentioned that when I personally replaced a standard hot air heating system filter with one rated to reduce allergens, the high efficiency filter removed a remarkable amount of dust in comparison to the standard one. Nothing in the house changed; the dust particles had been there all along.  They simply passed through the standard filter without slowing down.  Luckily, as my family doesn’t suffer from allergies, our health was not affected by the particles. Otherwise, for all intents and purposes, the furnace performed well with the standard filter.  However, this is not the case for CRAC units, where a little dust on the cooling coils can degrade efficiency.  Note to self: vacuum refrigerator coils, summer is arriving in two weeks.

    Dust Accumulation in Laptop Fan (Source)

    More importantly, dust on electrical components can insulate them and keep them from dissipating heat as designed.  This can overheat and stress components, leading to reduced or intermittent performance and in some cases, premature failure, especially toward the end of the device’s life.  That’s why all of the IT equipment manufacturers specify particle filtration as a condition in their warranty language.  Images on the web are more likely to show extreme examples in laptops and home computers, but the same can be seen in poorly maintained servers.

    But what is this dust, and how does the filter keep it out?  Dust is a buildup of fibers (natural and synthetic textiles, hair, fur, microscopic plastic, wood and metal scrapings from flooring, shoes, desks, etc.; plant, animal, soil, sand, pavement, building materials from the ambient environment, and the residues from combustion such as soot and smoke particles. Keep in mind, bacteria, mold spores, and viruses are particles in the air that can also be trapped in the filter.  They can be visible or invisible, and are sometimes too small to see with even the most powerful of microscopes (viruses for example).  Here’s an example of the range of particles that may be found in the air at any given time.

    Particle

    Particle Size
    (microns)

    one inch (24.4 mm)

    25400

    dot (.)

    615

    Eye of a Needle

    1230

    Beach Sand

    100 - 10000

    Mist

    70 - 350

    Pollens

    10 - 1000

    Textile Fibers

    10 - 1000

    Human Hair

    40 - 300

    Dust Mites

    100 - 300

    Saw Dust

    30 - 600

    Mold Spores

    10 - 30

    Red Blood Cells

    5 - 10

    Spider web

    2 - 3

    Combustion-related - motor vehicles, wood burning, industrial processes

    up to 2.5

    Milled Flour, Milled Corn

    1 - 100

    Coal Dust

    1 - 100

    Talcum Dust

    0.5 - 50

    Copier Toner

    0.5 - 15

    Liquid Droplets

    0.5 - 5

    Anthrax

    1 - 5

    Smoldering or Flaming Cooking Oil

    0.03 - 0.9

    Bacteria

    0.3 - 60

    Combustion

    0.01 - 0.1

    Burning Wood

    0.2 - 3

    Tobacco Smoke

    0.01 - 4

    Viruses

    0.005 - 0.3

    Typical Atmospheric Dust

    0.001 to 30

    Carbon Dioxide

    0.00065

    Oxygen

    0.0005

    Table edited for length. (Source)

    Different geographical locations have unique variables to consider, including the local environment (arid, tropical, arctic, etc.), local culture (cooking and heating methods, popular modes of transportation, hygiene practices, etc.), the site’s policies and practices in the selection of materials used and allowed in IT spaces, access practices (gowning, etc.), and HVAC system maintenance.  In clean rooms, such as those used for integrated circuit production at companies like Intel, Samsung and TSMC, the removal of particles is especially critical.  The cleanliness requirements for microprocessors and flash memory devices are significantly higher than a server closet, as the finished chips must operate under their defined specifications without obstruction or minuscule imperfections. After assessing the particle loading potential in any given site, the cost of filtration, cleaning, and other measures can be weighed against the OEM’s requirements.

    Typical Particles found in the Environment (Source)

    Local HVAC service companies are very familiar with the particle filtration needs of their areas.  By matching this knowledge with the site’s policies and practices, one can easily determine the optimum particle filtration for any given location. From data closets, to server rooms, and even in microprocessor factories, staying informed on best practices in filtration is always a wise move. 

    IC Wafer Lab (Source

     

    If you have other suggestions, tips, or insights on this issue, feel free to chime in on the comments section of this page!



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  • Low-Cost Monitoring Systems for SMBs and the Cold Chain

    Can Small Hospitals and Bio/Pharma Labs Implement Affordable, Fault-Tolerant Cold Chain Monitoring and Alarming During Shipment of Organs, Tissues, IVs and Vaccines?

    Cellular technology combined with Cloud Computing may provide the answer.


    Above: Organ Shipment Container

    A recent article in the latest edition of Pharmaceutical Commerce (Link to article) titled “The Convergence of Environmental Condition Monitoring and Supply Chain Visibility” describes a robust system designed to provide visibility to the location and environmental conditions of temperature sensitive products during shipment and transit.  The system uses a combination of GPS technology with a 24/7/365 asset tracking service for pharmaceutical and biological materials companies worldwide. 

     

    Backed by a $60B technology conglomerate, this package certainly offers a high level of monitoring and security.  Still, what about the small and midsized Bio/Pharma labs, hospitals, and medical centers? What are their options for a robustenvironmental monitoring system for the cold chain, particularly if budgets cannot support the additional expenses from continuously staffed services?  In the end, cellular communication technology in combination with a cloud service may provide one answer. The cloud service will typically provide SMS text, email, and phone alert capabilities to complement the hardware.

     

    The use of monitoring systems for sensitive products (within the cold chain) is an established practice. Regulations have either been previously established, or are under current review/consideration. These regulations are tailored to geographic locations (US or International), and differ by application type (e.g: vaccines vs. organs for donation) The Pharmaceutical Commerce article outlines several of these quite well.  Aside from regulatory requirements, many makers of such materials have implemented or are considering risk management strategies and policies to insure product safety and efficacy.  Still, the challenge lies in the cost of implementation, wherein these strategies and policies (between the time the product leaves their shipping dock and the time it arrives and is received) can be tricky to follow.

    Above: H1N1 Vaccine Shipment

     

    Of course, shippers do their best to insure product and environmental integrity of their cargo, however, many have horror stories of compromised shipments or damaged materials. To that extent, compromised or damaged shipments lead to a loss of materials and valuable time, neither of which are ideal.  These items may even be the result of extensive testing, and these setbacks can disrupt the entire project/development.


    One solution would be to utilize the power of wireless cellular technology and a robust cloud computing data aggregation system. These cloud systems are most effective for collecting and analyzing sensor data.  The wireless cellular communication medium (along with long-lasting battery backups) can help insure that materials are monitored for the duration of the trip.  Such systems are highly sensitive in regard to environmental changes, and therefore insure that any deviations can be noted and flagged with an email, SMS text, or voice alert message. These messages are sent to one (or several) responsible individuals at any time.  Escalation plans can also be built into the system, such that the absence of any one “individual” is not a cause for failure. These plans ensure that if conditions continue to deviate from the norm, other individuals can be alerted through a priority-based alert system.

    For information about Temperature@lert’s Cellular and Sensor Cloud offerings, visit our website athttp://www.temperaturealert.com or call us at +1-866-524-3540.

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  • Air Filter Series: A Lesson from the Home

    Air Filter Series:

    A Lesson from the Home

    by Dave Ruede, Product Evangelist at Temperature@lert



    What air filters do in your house, and what they mean for the IT space

    We can learn many valuable lessons from owning a home, but the learning curve is (at times) steep for home improvements and renovations. It was only a year ago that my wife and I bought a house, and one of these valuable lessons surfaced almost instantaneously. I realized afterwards that this lesson is applicable to any space where filter quality can affect HVAC efficiency (and energy costs!).

    Soon after the purchase, our gas-fired forced air furnace needed replacement due to a crack in the heat exchanger.  The unit came with a standard 1” (25 mm) air filter; you know the kind, the ones in your air conditioner ducts.  These filters remove dust.  Air passes through the pleated non-woven fabric and extracts larger dust particles and bugs from the air.  The filter plenum was able to accept a deeper filter, up to 4” (100 mm) deep.  The filter was scheduled to be changed quarterly, but since summer was upon us I waited until the heating season began in the fall.

    To frame this issue, keep in mind that filters do their job by trapping dust particles that are too big to pass through the holes in the fabric.  Smaller particles and air molecules pass through easily, or at least easily enough to let the air circulate as designed.  Filters are made with specifications that balance the removal properties (efficiency in removing particles) with the resistance to airflow compared to no filter being present (pressure drop).

    The surface area of the pleated filter media has a direct affect on the pressure drop.  If everything else is constant, the pleated media’s surface area is inversely correlated with the low pressure drop. Put more simply: the higher the surface area, the lower the drop. The same low pressure drop can be achieved by making the non-woven more porous, thereby having a negative effect on removing particles since larger spaces would let more dust through.  Low pressure drop is beneficial because the fan motor will require less energy to move the amount of air required to heat the house, and helps to lower energy costs.


    A  Portable Air Conditioner

    To address this very issue, I removed the 1” filter in the fall and saw that it had changed from black to brownish-gray.  Immediately afterwards, a 4” filter was installed that was also rated to reduce pollen and other allergens.  The deeper pleats and advanced non-woven design balanced the increased pressure drop, due to the smaller openings needed to remove pollen and such.  Six months later when I took it out, the outlet side was still white.  Even though we believed that we had kept a clean house, the inlet side was covered with a thick layer of dust and lint. The filter performed significantly better in removing dust and the like (versus the 1’’ filter), and did so without compromising the performance of the heating system.

    To connect this issue to IT and server rooms, keep in mind that an office air conditioner (that feeds the server closet or the HVAC and CRAC units in data centers) contains a filter like the one in my home. A server room’s HVAC system can be similarly affected by the surface area of an air filter. A poor or makeshift filter can diminish the efficiency of these units, and the energy costs will remain the same regardless. The combination of high power usage and low efficiency is hardly ideal.

    Regardless of size (closet, room, warehouse), these seemingly “insignificant” filters are important for assuring HVAC effectiveness and efficient energy usage in the IT space. The next piece in this series will cover the performance of air filters in server rooms (both positive and negative), and will also outline other key environmental issues in the IT space. Stay tuned, and stay cool! 



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  • Hotels and Temperature Sensors: Action, not Reaction

    Hotel owners have a lot on their plates.  And so often, most of us are misled to think "if it ain't broken, don't fix it," or "if it hasn't been problematic, don't throw a solution at it", and this does include hotel owners as well. A smart owner or manager will be sensitive to precautionary actions and aversion strategies, whereas the unprepared owner may spend more time reacting to problems and troubleshooting unforeseen complications. Life throws curveballs to all people and businesses, but most critical maintenance and upkeep issues within hotel management aren't that difficult to anticipate and/or avert. The question becomes, will you be ahead of the pack with the implementation of new strategies and technologies in your hotel, or will you be stuck with the raw consequences by failing to stay ahead?

     

    "My refrigerators are working just fine, what do I need a temperature sensor for?"

    This is probably the most common fallacy in the hotel management industry. At the very basic level, food safety guidelines are well outlined by the USDA, and temperature monitoring has long been an important piece for the assurance of safe food practices. While refrigerators and freezers may have their own temperature sensors (installed within the unit), a third party sensor is invaluable to assuring food safety.

    A power outage is a perfect example. If a power outage was to occur in the wee hours of the night for a contained period (let's say, 3 hours), the storage units would still register normative readings once power is restored (or may even need to be reset). The trouble is ingrained in the timeframe, 3 hours of lost refrigeration/freezer power can lead to unspeakable losses in spoiled foods and liquids. Storage temperatures may drastically fluctuate during this time period, and these temperature excursions (without a third party sensor) often go undocumented. 

    It gets worse; these tainted items may appear to be "still good", and even with the awareness that an outage may have occurred, definitive temperature data is absent from the equation. You may have missed the 20 degree rise in temperature that spanned a period of two hours, and you may be serving a chopped salad that contains Salmonella. The missed temperature readings can easily lead to bacterial growth.

    There is a solution that addresses the undocumented temperature readings, and even provides alerting capabilities that highlight a "power outage" once it occurs. While power outages can't necessarily be averted (unless a backup generator is present), a temperature sensor with battery backup is an excellent solution. Typically, these devices will switch to the battery once AC power is lost, and some can send alert notifications based on the power switch. With the battery backup, the temperature sensor will continue transmitting readings during the downtime, and when power is restored, the data can be used to determine whether food spoilage or prolonged exposure has occurred

    If a generator is present and power loss isn't a problem, the continued monitoring is still an important action to undertake.  Refrigeration/freezer systems can malfunction, fail, or even become compromised by poor storage practices. If vents or cooling coils are blocked by excessive storage, the relative temperature within will not necessarily match the programmed settings. A temperature sensor is a primary indicator of malfunction or failure, and timely alerting can expose the onset of this type of issue before it develops further. Again, the key is to anticipate failure and take action. 


    "The pool is always heated, why should I bother monitoring the temperature?"

    A heated pool is quite an attraction for hotel guests (especially on a cooler day). For a hotel owner, it represents a promise to deliver a pool that dwells on a particular temperature point. It's not too difficult to deliver on this promise, most pools have simple settings to enable a constant temperature. And yet, pools are complex systems that rely on a number of internal processes, which include heat pumps. If the heat pumps fail, the pool can quickly become cold. Here's a review snippet from a popular travel site that frankly states the effect of a cold pool on an expectant guest. 

    "When I called, the day before we arrived to make a reservation I specifically asked about the indoor hot tub and heated pool. They did not tell me the hot tub was out of order. They did say the pool was heated, but it is was so cold we couldn't even get in it. The only reason I was willing to pay so much for the rooom was because I was looking for an indoor hot tub and heated pool because it was winter"

    And there you have it: Deliver on your promises, and be aware of failure. The bolded section highlights the importance of this concept, as guests should be informed if there is an issue with a heated pool. If not, this type of comment shows how a broken promise can negatively affect the experience of guests. Again, use action, and prevent this type of guest reaction.

    Ultimately, by installing sensors for a heated pool, variances in temperature can be detected, addressed, and fixed. Don't merely assume that a heated pool will always stay heated, and the periodic maintenance check may not expose a potential problem. Heat pumps may not be at maximum efficiency, and while the pool temperature is still acceptably "heated", a failure may be on the horizon once the efficiency problem evolves into a major disaster.

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  • We Have Launched a Full Services Arm

    After creating an extensive line of environmental monitoring devices for a range of conditions (including humidity, flood, and soil moisture), the services arm expands our ability to assist clients who require more than the “out-of-the-box” solution. Our services arm specifically includes nationwide installation, customized software & sensor development, private labeling / OEM, and verification/validation services.
     
    The expansion of our offerings is critical to Temperature@lert's development. Enterprise clients are often seeking a fully-fledged, customized solution for industry-specific applications, in line with the development and advancement of our remotetemperature monitoring devices. From implementation of a fault-tolerant solution for IT server rooms, to pharmaceutical refrigerators and food service kitchens; our services arm can meet the needs of Enterprise clients that require installation, customization, private labeling, and meeting compliance regulations.

    “Temperature@lert products are the easiest to use for out of the box environmental monitoring. We're confident you'll be up and running in no time,” states Harry Schechter, CEO/President of Temperature@lert. “However, there are times when you run up against a challenge and need just a bit more out of your investment. With the modular and open nature of our products, we believe there's always a way to customize or engineer new solutions to fit your exact specifications. With this belief is how our services arm was launched.“
     
    For more information on Temperature@lert’s latest service offerings, please visit:http://www.temperaturealert.com/Remote-Temperature/Services.aspx.

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  • Consideration of High Temperature Ambient Environments and Free Cooling in Data Center Operation

    Driectly from the original post: http://www.datacenterpost.com/2013/01/consideration-of-high-temperature.html

     

    Temperature@lert

     David Ruede, VP Marketing at Temperature@lert, says:

    Techies love acronyms, and IT professionals are masters of the jargon. Where else would we find such gems as CRAC, PUE, SaaS, DCIM, VoIP and VPN among the scores if not hundreds of options for the next big idea?

    Why do we need these when The Free Dictionary lists 259 phrases alone for the acronym DC? (Link 1)  First, we love to speak in shorthand.  Time is always too short; things need to be done quickly.  Speaking in Acronym makes us an insider, the elite few who can feel the bits and petabytes flowing through the veins and arteries of the interconnected web of the virtual world.  And short of a Vulcan Mind Meld, acronyms save time, although one could argue that when used in meetings there may be a few who don’t really understand the meaning and because they don’t want to appear “stupid”, don’t ask.

    Many of these terms started off as marketing terms.  Why would we need CRAC when AC may be sufficient?  And why is PUE debated daily as to its true meaning in professional social media sites?  Every data center operator, supplier and professional looks to set themselves or their companies apart from the competition.  I’ll argue this is a good thing because it makes web searches easier – I don’t have to sort through hundreds of household air conditioners sold in retail outlets to find what I need for a data center, server or telecom room.

    Recently a new acronym has been making its way into the jargon.  HTA, High Temperature Ambient, has cropped up in several professional periodicals and online marketing pieces.  The phrase is used to describe the benefits of reduced energy consumption in data centers and other IT facilities that operate at what many consider higher than “normal” temperatures, say 30°C (86°F) for example.  Described in earlier pieces as high ambient temperature or high temperature in the ambient, the idea of running data centers at higher temperatures has gained prominence as a way to save electrical energy, a very costly piece of the data center’s operating budget.  Often used with terms like “free cooling” or “air side economizers”, the idea is that today’s servers have been specified to run at higher temperatures than those just a few years ago, so operating equipment at higher temperatures has no detrimental effect.

    In April 2012, Intel published a study of the potential energy savings in green data center maker Gitong’s modular data centers.  The Shanghai study showed an annual cost reduction of almost $33,000 per year, which is significant.

    Figures 1a, 1b: Tables showing before and after HTA results - Source: Intel Link 2

    While saving energy is a very desirable goal, data center, server and telecom room operators are well served to understand the underlying assumptions behind “turning up the heat and opening up the doors and windows”.  First, all of the equipment in an IT space comes with manuals, and the manuals specify operating conditions. Insuring all of the equipment in the ambient is able to run at elevated temperatures is highly recommended, particularly since older devices or appliances may be more prone to heat related performance degradation.  ASHRAE’s TC 9.9 2011 Thermal Guidelines for temperature and humidity control are a good reference as to where to start when designing or setting up an HVAC system. (Link 3)

    Second, while the HVAC systems in IT spaces are generally well designed and provide adequate airflow to the equipment, time has a way of changing things.  Profiling the temperature of the data center to see if any changes in operation or addition of equipment have created “hot spots” with sufficient resolution to insure each rack or piece of equipment is operating within specification can be done with existing equipment by moving temperature sensors to areas not normally monitored during the temperature mapping process.

    Third, changes in temperature can cause changes in relative humidity.  Continuous monitoring of not only temperature but relative humidity before and after raising the temperature is recommended to insure both of these critical parameters are within manufacturer’s specification.

    And if IT professionals decide to employ “free cooling” by figuratively “opening up the doors and windows”, they would be well advised to check ASHRAE’s TC 9.9 Gaseous and Particulate Contamination Guidelines for Data Centers and again their supplier manuals for specification compliance. (Link 4)

    Figure 2: Ambient Air Cooling Unit (Link 5)

    Much has been written about free cooling; a June 2012 article is a good example. (ref. Link 5)  Cooling may indeed be “free” and many can and do use free cooling combined with HTA to make significant reductions in their energy bills.  As in all good ideas, “first, do no harm” is a good motto.  IT professionals may be well served to verify and validate the assumptions against best practices as they apply to their sites before any significant changes in operation are made.

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  • Essential Tech Check List: Building & Retrofitting Your Server Room

    Whether you're building a server room, adding on, or moving equipment there are many considerations to mull over. From the basics to alarm systems, it is important to ensure your server room is efficient and to protect your mission critical equipment. Previously in our blog, we have addressed the issues surrounding the microclimate present in your server room; however, it is critical to have an understanding of how a server room should be laid-out and managed. Use our check list as a guide for promoting security, efficiency, and productivity:

    Our Essential Tech Check List

    (1) Your Basics of Space

    • -Examine the layout of the space and how many units of space you have to work with.

    • -The walls (including ceiling) and doors should isolate the sounds that your equipment is creating.

    • -Check to see which way the door opens. There should also be no windows or other entry points other than the doors in the room.

    • -Consider the floor and whether your equipment will need raised flooring. Aim for anti-static floor finishing to prevent an unwanted static charge.

    • -Make sure there is enough clearance for racks and that they are stable enough to hold your equipment.

    • -Check for aisle clearance too, make sure your have enough room for exhaust to escape and not over-heat nearby equipment.

    • -Think about whether you need ladder racks, cabinets, shelves, patch panels, or rack mounts.

    • -Take into weight and size of each piece of equipment into consideration when designing the layout.


    (2) Keeping Your Cool

    • -Check and see what type if centralized cooling is available, whether an under the floor air distribution or an air duct system.

    • -If there is no centralized system available, get an air conditioner or cooling unit that is able to keep your equipment working productively while minimizing energy consumption and costs.

    • -If at all possible, fresh air vents are great and save on energy costs and consumption!

    • -Remove any and all radiators or other heating equipment currently present in the room. You don't need to add heat at all!

    • -Monitor your cooling system(s) to make sure it is working properly, especially when no one is there.

    • -Make sure your cooling units are not too close in proximity to your electrical equipment, think condensation and flooding. Do not place air conditioning units over your servers.

    • -Monitor the humidity to prevent static charge and electrical shorts.

    • -See if a chilled water system is in the budget or find something within the budget constraints to ensure that the hot air has somewhere to go.

     

    (3) Using Your Power

    • -Check to make sure that you have enough outlets to support power to all your equipment and not to overload them.

    • -Get backup power, preferably UPS to prevent data loss from power blinking or outages.

    • -Don't surpass the maximum electrical intensity per unit of space.

    • -Consider shut down capabilities of equipment (SNMP traps for example).

    • -Make sure your equipment is grounded.

    • -Monitor for power outages if you are not using back-up power systems.

    • -Monitor your back up power systems to make sure your mission critical equipment is not failing due to power loss.

     

    (4) Keeping Secure & Safe

    • -Have at least one phone present in the room in case of emergencies.

    • -Either check for a preexisting fire alarm system and install one if there isn't.

    • -Get a fire suppression system if there is not one there. Take into consideration of whether you will have a wet or dry suppression system and the effects that will have on your equipment. (Halon is a great choice!)

    • -Have reliable contacts to help resolve issues immediately, or form a system of escalation.

    • -Monitor for flooding, especially if this has happened historically in the past.

    • -Secure entrances/exits, this is expensive equipment with critical data, you don't want just anyone in there messing around!

     

    (5) Other Considerations

    • -Get the best cabling/wiring available within budget constraints. 

    • -Keep extra cabling/wiring around, because you never know when you may need it.

    • -Consider color coding wires/cables, a little more work now but definitely a time-saver in the future!

    • -Think about lighting: location & heat produced.

    • -If there is someone sharing the space, get them some earplugs! It's going to be loud in there with the equipment being used.

    • -Consider networking/phone lines being run in there and how much space you have left after that.

    • -Plan for future expansion or retrofitting (again).

    • -Leave the service loops in the ceilings.

    • -Label outlets.

    • -Get rid of dust, your equipment hates it!

    • -Check if you have a rodent/pest problem.

    • -Cover emergency shutoff switches so that it can't be accidentally triggered.

    • -Try to centralize the room in the building so that you can eliminate having to use more cabling/wiring than you need to.

    • -Meet OSHA and ASHRAE guidelines as well local codes.


    Is your server room or do you know of someone's server room that is not being monitored for temperature? Are you concerned with energy consumption, ability to monitor off-hours, and/or preventing mission critical equipment from failure? If you or know someone who is experiencing such issues, we want to hear form YOU!

    We will be giving away ONE FREE USB DEVICE per month to the server room with the most need! Valued at $129.99,Temperature@lert USB Edition is a low-cost, high-performance device that monitors the ambient temperature in your server room and alerts you via email when the temperature rises or falls outside your acceptable range.

    Please send a brief description, pictures, and/or videos to diane@temperaturealert.com for consideration! Our team will select one winner each month based on description and need, because we firmly believe that companies in every industry 


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  • Temperature@lert Surpasses Over $1 Billion in Assets Protected

    Temperature@lert, a leading provider of low-cost, high-performance temperature monitoring products, is now protecting over $1 Billion of customer assets.  Temperature@lert's mission is to provide companies and individuals with remote monitoring and alerting of temperature and other environmental conditions to alleviate customer worries about system malfunctions or product damage due to changes in temperature or other environmental conditions. 

    Temperature@lert was founded and funded in 2005 by CEO Harry Schechter in Washington, D.C. with the USB Edition as their first temperature-monitoring device developed. Currently Temperature@lert’s central office is located in Boston, MA and their current product and service offerings include: USB Edition, WiFi Edition, Cellular Edition, Solar Cellular Edition, and Sensor Cloud. Several of their products and services have won awards ranging from the MITX Innovation Awards to the American Business Awards’ Gold Stevie.

    Temperature@lert’s award-winning devices have aided users in major industries spanning from Information Technology (IT) to Biopharmaceuticals and Medical to Commercial Refrigeration.  Clients include Abbott Laboratories, Microsoft, Apple, Heil Environmental, Merck Corporation, University of Connecticut, Vanderbilt University, and University of Pennsylvania to name a few.

    “By giving 110% personally and having established a talented team willing to do the same, Temperature@lert has successfully grown in both research & development and users over the past eight years,” says CEO & President, Harry Schechter. “We now protect over $1 Billion of customer assets with over 40,000 devices in 50 countries with the world’s easiest to use solution. Temperature@lert’s mission to monitor environmental conditions and prevent problems related to such conditions is truly being realized and fulfilled. We strive to keep innovating and alleviating environmental conditions related disasters globally.”

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  • It's Hot! It's Cold! Oh No... It's Your Fluctuating Server Room Temperature Again...

    We know that every room, especially a server room, has its own microclimate. Even sensors that are inches apart can read different values! Although similar applications might share the same temperature threshold range, every sensor placement location is unique. It sounds strange; that there would be such fluctuations in temperature within inches, but this happens because your server room has its own minature weather pattern!

    So how do you figure out the correct temperature range for monitoring your server room? Or where to place your sensor? As many conditions as there are for the actual ourdoor weather patterns, there are many variables for sensor placement and operational range because of the changing indoor microclimate.

    Essentially, in order to determine the right thresholds for your server room "environment", you need to acquire adequate baseline knowledge. This process is called "baselining", which involves monitoring your server room first to establish a history of normal conditions. Temperature is a significant threat to your equipment and in order to battle this, you need to discover and establish your server room's microclimate (i.e. baselining)!


    Baselining is basically achieved through studying the space of your server room while considering the components within it. Thic can be done to determine the proper ranges for both temperature and humiditySo what spots are the most critical for consideration when it comes to sensor placement?

    1. Hot Spots
    At the bare minimum, place at least one sensor in a central location in the room. Note: every room has its own mini weather pattern, and conditions from one part to another can vary based on what the room contains and where vents/returns are located. The simplest rule of thumb is that heat rises. So, the higher the sensor placement, the warmer the temperature

    2. Cooling Vent Locations
    Whether it is an air conditioner, economized cooler, or another chilling device, it will affect the sensor reading depending on proximity of the sensor to the vent. If you want to monitor whether your cooling unit may be going out at different times,place a sensor in the air duct and you can determine when the cooling unit is off. Placement of a sensor in close proximity to the cooling unit may cause the sensor to pick up cooling unit "cycles", sending you false alerts in the process.

    3. Exhausts
    Besides cooling vents, you need to also consider hot vents from server cabinets or compressors. Placing a sensor near or in between these areas is crucial as high temperatures can cause damage to hardware. The exhaust-based alerts will draw attention to the high temperatures within the servers, allowing you to prevent loss of hardware (and revenue!)

    4. Ancillary Humidification Systems
    These systems help control humidity. Too much humidity can cause condensation, which leads to electrical shorts. Not enough humidity causes one to have quite the mini-electrifying experience with static electricity at its peak. Place your humidity sensor in a location seperate from the ancillary humidification system in order to prevent the sensor from getting shorted and to avoid false humidity readings.

    By monitoring temperature and humidity, one can have early warning of any disasters looming in your server room. It is always better to prevent a disaster rather than mop up after it (speaking of, flood sensors are great too!). If you need assistance in determining the best practices and routines for your server room, please feel free to shoot me an email:diane@temperaturealert.com.

    Happy Monitoring!

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