How to avoid data centre malfunction

Carl Webb, HVAC Sales Director at Andrews Air Conditioning, outlines the implications of data centre malfunction and how having a contingency plan can be the difference between business continuity and catastrophe.

There are very few sectors where projected growth exceeds that of the data centre industry, which is expected to be worth more than £100billion by 2025. The digital age and subsequent technological developments only add to an already-strong requirement for data centres, and there are several reasons for this.

Put simply, this trend is reflective of the fact that a company’s operationality can be easily streamlined to enhance the level of service customers now come to expect. So, what does this mean for the many organisations that are almost completely reliant on the uninterrupted functionality of servers?

With the average cost of a data centre outage thought to exceed half a million pounds, the financial impact of failing to protect critical assets could not be more glaring.

Despite that astronomical figure, many of the world’s largest companies still appear to give very little credence to the prospect of server failure – until, of course, it’s too late. A pre-emptive approach to monitoring your data centre can help prevent the dreaded breakdown scenario and avert any serious disruption.

In telecommunication applications, redistribution points and communication endpoints – more commonly known as nodes – produce vast quantities of heat which needs to be constantly counteracted to prevent a crippling system failure.

When nodes surrounding a central processing unit (CPU) reach or exceed temperatures of approximately 32°C, then that hardware enters a race against time before any lasting damage is caused. Even if a CPU can be replaced and your server appears to be functioning as expected at first glance, there’s still a strong possibility that you will encounter an issue further down the line.

If other vital components such as the power supply or memory are exposed to extreme temperatures, their susceptibility to collapsing dramatically increases. So, what causes this vulnerability?

One of the most common reasons for severs faltering is insufficient temperate control inside the hosting application. Preserving the functionality of your telecommunications services should always be a primary objective which means those responsible for your facilities must ensure suitable cooling equipment is deployed inside the location.

It is generally accepted that electronic hardware performs best at between 20°C and 23°C, underlining the importance of having a trustworthy high capacity air conditioning arrangement in place at all times.

Unsurprisingly, having an adequate source of cooling is a fundamental requirement but far from the only thing you must consider from a safeguarding standpoint. It’s imperative that your data centre is correctly ventilated to allow enough space for cold air to circulate freely. Although having an effective air conditioning system is critical, it’s impact will be almost completely negated if there is not enough room for air to move.

Perhaps the most overlooked variable, though, is the need to control moisture levels and humidity. Excessive dampness can cause machinery to corrode, short-circuit or even develop mould, which is as avoidable as it is undesirable. With that said, too little moisture in the atmosphere can also have a knock-on effect by increasing the likelihood of electrostatic discharge instigating a system crash.

It goes without saying, but the repercussions of your data centre failing are varied and far-reaching which is why it is so important to take preventative measures at the earliest opportunity.

In the first instance, there is a cost of detecting the original problem which involves the subsequent investigation into how it arose. This phase of action goes hand in hand with an attempt at containing the issue, which is solely aimed at limiting disruption and making sure its effect is minimised.

Once an application has gone offline, your immediate priority will obviously be restoring networks and key systems. This is often easier said than done, however, and the financial impact of this process is difficult to calculate.

Not all losses can be measured in monetary terms, however. There’s no doubt that a major data centre malfunction would affect the way in which the operator is perceived by clients, and that can have long-term ramifications. Trivial everyday complications can normally be rectified but a damaged reputation is far more difficult to repair.

When disaster strikes, you’ll require the intervention of a 24-hour HVAC company that can dispatch engineers to your site immediately. A leading provider of specialist cooling hire solutions will pride themselves on having a genuine nationwide presence with depots and bespoke equipment located all around the country.

By recognising the sensitivity of data centres and server rooms, trained technicians are extremely well-placed to recommend and install a cooling package that has been specifically tailored to suit your environment.

A trustworthy contingency service will ensure daily strategies are protected and guarantee business continuity even when faced with an outage. By constantly developing and improving the technology used in their modern air conditioners and chillers, a trusted supplier will be able to provide superior replacement equipment should your own cooling system lose effectiveness.

Your chosen provider should pledge to respond to emergency callouts as quickly as possible and possess a tangible knowledge of keeping data centres online.

A nationwide presence helps protect companies that have become increasingly dependent on the continued functionality of electronic hardware. Understanding the potential impact of failed IT systems enables engineers to react quickly, take precautionary measures and install supplementary or substitute cooling apparatus to avoid costly downtime.

The round-the-clock availability of high capacity air conditioning units should be coupled with a free site survey option if required by customers. Should something go wrong on site, clients will reap the benefits of professional technical advice preceding the implementation of an alternative cooling hire solution that befits your surroundings and process.

If you’re not sufficiently prepared for offsetting warm server room temperatures and don’t have a set protocol to follow in the event something goes wrong, now is the time to take action. Why leave yourself in the precarious position of self-inflicted vulnerability when seeking expert advice is so easy?