15 May 2007

15 May 2007

High Density Devices Strain Data Center Resources

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Category: aperture, blade servers, data center cooling

A few weeks back I commented on the current boom in data center development. Spurring this trend is the growing need for greater processing power and increased data storage capacity, as well as new Federal regulations which call for better handling and storage of data.

In the scramble to keep up with these demands, the deployment of high density devices and blade servers has become an attractive option for many data center managers. However, a new report from the Aperture Research Institute indicates that “many facilities are not able to handle the associated demand for power and cooling.”

The study, based on interviews with more than 100 data center professionals representing a broad spectrum of industries, reveals that the deployment of high density equipment is creating unforeseen challenges within many data centers.

Highlights of the report include:

  • While the majority of data center managers are currently running blade servers in their facilities, traditional servers still comprise the bulk of new server purchases. Mixing blade and non-blade servers in such small quantities can unnecessarily complicate the data center environment and make maintenance more difficult.
  • The rising power density of racks makes them more expensive to operate and more difficult to cool. More than one-third of the respondents said their average power density per rack was over 7KW, a scenario that setting the facilities up for potential data center cooling issues and unexpected downtime.
  • Respondents report that the majority of data center outages were caused by human error and improper failover.
  • What’s really jaw-dropping is that while more than 22% of outages were due to overheating, 21% of respondents admit that they don’t know the maximum power density of their racks. The report points out that “[o]ver 8% of respondents are therefore using high-density devices without tracking power density in a rack, dramatically increasing the potential for outages.”

High density equipment can help data centers keep up with business demands, but only if you can keep things running smoothly. Proper management of power and cooling is essential for meeting the end user’s availability expectations. For more information on the various cooling challenges posed by high density rack systems, please visit our Data Center Cooling Challenges page at PTSDCS.com.