In other words, make sure Your Airflow Solution isn’t just a bunch of hot air.

By Rob Huttemann, Senior Vice President of Operations, Critical Environments Group

Every data center or critical environment has installed one kind of an aisle containment solution or another. Everyone knows it’s a great way to achieve efficiency improvements and/or cost savings. Industry consultants, engineering firms and product vendors have been talking about it for years. What’s not talked about is the huge number of end users that never realize the full effect of the improvement, cost savings or capacity benefits they were promised.

Having been part of dozens of data center aisle containment projects over the past decade across all kinds of environments, I’ve seen the same patterns of issues or root causes regardless of the unique environment. Whether it be hot-aisle or cold-aisle, raised floor or slab, new build or retrofit, partial or full containment, all too often the result seems to fall short of the initial expectation. But it doesn’t have to be this way. For many end users, those promised goals can still be achieved and ROI can still be realized. And for those just getting started, read on to make sure your aisle containment project is done right the first time.

Cutting through the Noise

If you’re in charge of data center operations or data center maintenance, you’re inundated with tons of content – news, studies, complex white papers, expert opinions – about airflow management. Cutting through all the technical jargon and airflow theory, successful aisle containment comes down to what’s often mentioned as Elements of Best Practices. They include:

  • Having a sound project plan;
  • Applying metrics to the data associated with your environment
  • Selecting and implementing the best data center containment methodology
  • Choosing the right vendor partner and installation team
  • Make the necessary infrastructure changes after installation.

Unfortunately, one or more of these best practices are almost always neglected or ignored during the project lifecycle, resulting in the less-than-desirable results. Why? In my experience, a lack of discipline and follow through are often the root causes – environmental data isn’t tracked consistently; trying to save time and money with ‘one-size-fits-all’ containment methodology (HINT: it doesn’t!); blowing off recommended infrastructure changes.

Aisle Containment Done Right

By following – and following through with – each of these best practices, your data center has the best shot at achieving maximum efficiency the first time around. But what if you’ve already gone down this road with less-than-stellar results? Good news! It’s never too late to turn things around. Revisit the original project plan and stop to take metrics if you didn’t the first time. I guarantee you’ll identify ways to improve efficiencies no matter where your environment is in the containment lifecycle.

About the Author

Rob Huttemann is the Senior Vice President of Operations for Critical Environments Group. He has more than 30 years of industry experience and familiarity with data center and supporting infrastructure management, with specific focus on power, space and storage, cooling, and overall best practices.

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