Cooling Continuity

Here at Broughton EAP we regularly supply large portable air conditioning units for use within the telecommunications industry. Places such ass data centres not only generate huge amounts of heat, but the equipment they house is incredibly sensitive to excess heat and therefore they have to handled with knowledge and expertise.

With the digitisation of so much administration in modern business and the way it depends on such information to function, the safety of this data is becoming an ever more important concern for companies.

Most people these days will just expect turn a computer on or pick up a smart phone and have access to all the relevant information needed to do their jobs, and it’s only when this access doesn’t happen that we realise just how dependent we are on the modern server room or data centre and how we take them for granted.

Although the current demand for data might seem insatiable it isn’t predicted to ease of for quite some time yet. In fact, experts predict double digit growth year on year for data centre technology for at least another decade, possibly even longer.

As the need for online information continues to out pace availability the demand on companies to store data safely means that sometimes factors such as heat might not necessarily be properly taken into consideration. However, the effect of excess heat in a data centre or server room can be catastrophic if left unchecked, not perhaps in terms of flammability but because it can lead to equipment malfunction which, in turn,can seriously reduce the ability of business to function. It is therefore essential to have an effective climate control program in place to protect your electronic hardware and to make the necessary adjustments to this program as and when storage capacity changes.

Overheating is one of the most common causes of equipment failure in the data storage industry but the risk doesn’t just come from inadequate cooling, it can also come from a heat wave or prolonged spell of warm weather. Think about how overheating might affect you if you can’t get access to the data needed to keep your company operating. With todays ‘need it now’ culture how will your customers react? Will they bare with you while things are sorted or will they simply move on to a competitor? Consider also the knock effect it might have on your reputation, something it might have taken years to build up.

The good news here is that by having a well thought out contingency protocol in place the possibility of lasting damage can be minimized and managed therefore protecting revenue streams and allowing business continuity.

A key part of this protocol should be an effective partner organization, an experienced climate control specialist with 24/7 availability, a large, well maintained fleet of cooling equipment, and knowledgeable engineers on standby and ready to go at a moments notice.

Having this sort of partnership allows management teams peace of mind that should anything happen to their cooling equipment then someone is on hand quickly to prevent operational downtime within their businesses and thereby minimizing the risks associated, such as cost and loss of income.

Another important consideration is routine maintenance. As with any mechanical system data centre cooling systems need regular servicing to maintain optimum performance and reduce the risk of breakdown, this is especially true when the consequences of breakdown are potentially so great. This is also where working with that specialist partner company can pay dividends. Because data centres can’t normally be switched off to allow for routine maintenance of the air conditioning your climate control partner should be able to provide and install a temporary cooling system. This will usually consist of a chiller and multiple fan coil units or perhaps a number of portable air conditioning units such as water cooled splits. As soon as the fixed cooling system is ready to come back online the temporary system can be uninstalled and removed.

This type of arrangement can also be valuable if any unforeseen issues are found with fixed system which might mean it’s down for longer than planned.

A recent survey highlighted the problem of business interruption caused by technology breakdown by estimating it cost the average small business almost £45,000 per year, with that ballooning to over £1,000,000 for larger companies. Those are make or break figures and show just how important it is to ensure data centre operators have a plan in place to manage excess heat.
Data centres consume enormous amounts of energy, as much as a small town in some cases, and where there’s that kind of energy there’s always the risk of overheating and therefore the constant threat of your hardware getting too hot. To avoid disaster if or when your data centre starts to suffer from over heating you must have an emergency contingency plan in place, and again this is where the relationship with an experienced climate control specialist pays off. Failure to act quickly when your equipment starts to overheat will almost certainly result in downtime, but with a reputable supplier at had they should be able to quickly assess the situation, source the relevant equipment and have a temporary cooling system up and running before the brown stuff really hits the fan.

So, in short, data centres are critical pieces of modern infrastructure and nearly everybody needs them (whether they realise it or not) to run their business. They’re also sensitive to heat yet generate huge quantities of it whilst in normal operation and although they’ll usually have a fixed cooling system of some description, it might not always be enough after extra servers have been installed or during unusually high summer temperatures. If you’re responsible for a data centre, either your own companies or one that rents out storage space to others, then a fast, reliable cooling specialist on speed dial to help in the event of emergency is of the utmost importance, giving you peace of mind that should anything happen then you’ll be able to get someone on-site to assess, recommend and install the solution, no matter what time of day or night.

As with any agreement you plan on entering into it helps to go in prepared and with a good idea as to what it is that you’re after. So, before you sign a binding contract make sure your preferred HVAC supplier can offer you these essentials, at the very least:

24/7/365 coverage. Data centres don’t care if it’s Christmas, summer bank holiday or Saturday evening, if the worst does happen then you need to ensure you’re able to get an engineer out quickly. Failure to take swift action will only compound and exaggerate problems for you, your business and your customers.

Comprehensive range of equipment. Choose a company with a range of portable cooling equipment, from portable air conditioners (both water cooled split air conditioners and traditional monobloc types) and man cooler fans all the way up to chillers, fan coil units and air handling units. Make sure the equipment on offer is well looked after and meets the latest standards.

Dedicated staff. Data centres, server rooms and telecommunications installations are critically important in the modern world, but they’re also incredibly sensitive to the affects of heat. A professional HVAC outfit understands this and will have trained, experienced engineers on call around the clock to make sure someone reliable is always available.

Contingency plan. Again, a professional HVAC supplier will have worked with the facilities management team at the data centre to create a full contingency plan. This will include the nearest location of cooling equipment, the required cooling capacity, power requirements (and the location of power sources). If this plan is drawn up and kept on file then an engineer can get to work the second they arrive on site and it will cut down on the amount of time before the back up cooling system is up and running on site.

Experience. The sensitive nature of the service provided by telecommunications companies means any third party supplier should be a specialist in whatever area they’ve been brought in to help with. With this in mind your HVAC partner should be able to call on a wealth of experience dealing with emergency cooling requirements; how to set the equipment up, get it up and running quickly, mobilise engineers with installation experience and a good general knowledge of server rooms or data centres. A good understanding of the telecommunications industry within your partner company will ensure the best possible response, as they’ll be aware of the consequences of prolonged downtime and therefore able to provide the kind of swift resolution needed.

Maintenance backup. As part of the hire contract responsibility for regular maintenance for any equipment should fall to the supplier. Things like cleaning filters and ensuring any water levels are topped up will keep the equipment running at full capacity and help reduce dust within the environment.

National coverage. Having multiple depots across the nation ensures the nearest set of engineers can be mobilised and on site quickly, minimising downtime and reducing the chance of catastrophic failure.

Whilst it might be nigh on impossible to avoid the fallout from natural disasters, market conditions or a worldwide recession brought about by global pandemic, there really is something you can do to avoid the problems caused by overheating data centres. These days there are a number of specialist companies dedicated to temporary cooling solutions for data centres and sensitive telecommunications infrastructure. Here at Broughton EAP Ltd we’ve worked with most of the countries leading HVAC hire and rental specialists and have supplied equipment for use by companies such as British Telecom and Virgin Media and whilst we’ve got the equipment the companies we work with are able to provide the rest of the package; 24/7 back up, servicing, on-call engineers and application specialists.

If you’re in the market for someone to help protect your communications assets, be that a large data centre or smaller server room within then feel free to contact a member of our team who will be happy to put you in contact with an industry leading supplier.

For information on our full range or industrial air conditioners, large industrial electric fan heaters, ventilation fans, man cooler fans, evaporative coolers, portable electric boilers and fan coil units please explore our site or call us on 01527 830610.