Optimizing Airflow Management with Airflow Plenums for Better Data Center Energy Use

Posted by Gaw Technology on 4/8/2015 to Data Center Topics

There's no question that air flow management is crucial to reducing energy use and improving the reliability of operations.  Data centers can waste as much as 60% of their overall energy use through inefficient cooling. A major component of the data center's cooling capabilities will be its airflow management system. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, there are two main objectives for any successful data center cooling system.

  1. Eliminate the hot air from recirculating with the cool air
  2. Supply cool air to the IT equipment air intake location


In order to fulfill these objectives, data centers must be designed with Telcordia GR-63 Issue-4 in mind. Gr-63 Issue-4 requires network equipment manufacturers to use front-to-rear airflow management for air containment, which negates past airflow management systems like side-to-side airflow. In front-to-rear airflow management, the aisle in front of the server is reserved for supplied cool air and is separated from the aisle behind the servers meant for the heated exhaust.

The problem is that many data centers have legacy hardware that incorporated the other airflow management systems in their design. This not only affects GR-63 Issue-4 compliance, but can also increase energy costs and put hardware at risk.

Gaw Technology has seen this problem with routers from a wide variety of manufacturers, including those from the largest manufacturers in the world like Cisco and Juniper Networks. We have worked with data center managers to implement an airflow management system that addresses these challenges. Many times this will involve designing an airflow plenum that separates hot and cold air streams.

Because every  device is different and has varying air intake and exhaust requirements, the best option is to speak with a Cabinet and Rack Consultant to learn more about what type of air plenum and baffle system makes the most sense for your data center requirements. An airflow management system that achieves your IT goals and ensures Telcordia compliance is not often a cookie-cutter situation. There will be various elements that will influence your needs.

We can help configure a solution that meets those needs and do so at an affordable rate- we make our computer racks and airflow accessories in-house. Contact us today to learn more. We also encourage you to check out some of the air plenums we've designed in the past for various routers here.


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