Choosing enclosures & containment systems for technology spaces
Thu 30 Jul 2020 | Michael Akinla
Panduit’s Michael Akinla explains how to choose the right enclosures and containment spaces for your facility
Data centre and enterprise computer room containment solutions (cabinets and enclosure systems, to you and me) are essential to the modern IT/Communications facility.
Today’s increasing data throughput requires more complex and power-hungry processors and systems to cope with the user demand. The numerous cabinet product offerings from various manufacturers, may appear very similar, but understanding the development, testing, manufacture, product options and supply-chain can be the difference between a standard inflexible cabinet and a system customised and preconfigured to your precise requirements.
If you are the end customer or installer you need to be aware of the space to be occupied by the cabinets; ceiling heights, floor configuration – is it raised or slab – what equipment will be hosted within the cabinets, the power envelop per rack/cabinet and the installed technology’s purpose and projected hosting plans for the next 5-10 years.
The equipment cooling strategy is essential and a rule of thumb is 10-25kW (per rack), cold aisle containment (CAC), 25-40kW hot aisle/air containment (HAC), whilst above 45kW requires direct chipset cooling. Although, data centres and corporate compute facilities are under increasing pressure to introduce energy saving technology and processes and these are beginning to change how we implement the white space environments.
The next step is understanding the scope of the cabinets and enclosures within the white space. I recommend asking your cabinet or containment supplier, what level of design testing they undertake.
Panduit has a state of the art 1600 square feet white space thermal lab, where we test and evaluate multiple-row cabinet layouts, targeting different containment solutions with various cabinets combinations and airflow delivery schemes. This capability allows us to recreate any floor layout and test for optimised design, which benefits customers in layout and cooling strategy and often eliminates redundant capacity in delivered solutions.
Among the benefits of grouping the cabinets together within a CAC or HAC solution are reduce costs, reduce energy use, and guaranteed cold and hot air separation and optimised equipment performance.
Power rating required by the servers and communications equipment, and the cooling strategy for the room will affect containment and cabinet design. Equipment manufacturers’ warrantees now allow hotter operating environments, and so enclosures must be highly efficient in airflow movements to ensure maximum cooling is maintained.
You should ensure the selected cabinets and enclosures provide air-flow calculations for the open apertures, such as mesh front and rear doors, whilst also offer gaskets and liners to seal possible air leak areas. Today’s average rack power is 6kW, while many new applications require increased through-put and higher power requirement.
A reduction in cooling airflow could result is an immediate increase in rack operating temperature which could trigger a processor shut down and possibly a more serious systems outage.
Sophisticated environment monitoring is now available for data centre environments including temperature and humidity sensors as well as magnetic door sensors for additional security.
To resolve problems such as integrating upgrade cabinets with old solutions, ensure any shortlisted cabinet and containment system complies with Universal Aisle Containment format and offers features that make the deployment less costly and disruptive, and should include the following:
- Deployable as CAC (cold aisle containment) or HAC (hot aisle containment) solution
- Compatible with a variety of air delivery methods
- Ability to contain rows of cabinets of different heights, widths and manufacturers
- Ability to contain unpopulated or partially populated rows, without effecting performance.
As compute density increases pre-configured enclosures offering fully or partially complete racks and cabinets can be delivered direct to the customer. These plug-in solutions arrive complete with PDUs, standards-based cabling, connectivity, physical security and monitoring capabilities, reducing build time and increasing deployment speed on site, whilst greatly reducing packaging waste.