There’s no denying that data centers play a very important role in storing information. But as useful as they are, data centers come with many costs and they take a lot to maintain.

For example, the power density of a data center is 100 times more than that of a large commercial office building and is equivalent to nine shopping malls about the size of Wal-Mart. With all that power being used, keeping the temperature stable is paramount.

More than 65 percent of IT equipment failures are directly attributed to inadequate, poorly maintained or failed air conditioning in the server room. When the cooling system isn’t working, there could be dire consequences. The A/C costs of an average server room with about 30 KW of air conditioning operating at 70 percent capacity with an average cost of 12.7 c/kWh will be $23,000pa and 243 tons of green-house gas will be produced.

One way for data centers to avoid major IT problems is by using hot or cold aisle containment system. There are advantages to using each of them, but hot or cold aisle containment go a long away toward helping keep temperatures at acceptable levels. In fact, 80 percent of data centers employ or are looking into installing hot or cold aisle containment systems to keep servers at the correct temperatures and reduce energy use.

Hot or cold aisle layout for server racks and other equipment works by setting up server racks in alternating rows. In this configuration, cold air intakes face one way and hot air exhausts face the other way, setting up hot and cold aisles. Cold aisles usually face air conditioner ducts and hot aisles usually face air conditioner return ducts.

So what are the benefits of hot aisle containment and cold aisle containment systems? Read on to find out.

A Cold aisle containment system, as its name implies, involves enclosing cold aisles in a data center. Cold air is directed to each cold aisle and can be matched to server airflow requirements. One pro of cold aisle containment is that it can be used with floor supply plenums that are raised, or they can be used in an overhead duct supply.

There are some disadvantages to a cold aisle containment system however. Allowing hot aisle discharge into a cold aisle can fill the room with heat. When this happens, data center employees might assume that everything is fine in a cold aisle when in fact server racks and communication racks in a cold aisle may have been exposed to warm air.

Like a cold aisle encloses cold aisles, hot aisle containment encloses hot aisles. Warm air from IT equipment is returned to cooling equipment through a plenum or through ductwork. With hot aisle containment, general data center space remains cool and eliminates perception that IT equipment is not being cooled.

There are some disadvantages to hot aisle containment though. Working in a contained hot aisle can be very uncomfortable and high temperatures within contained hot aisles need to be monitored, especially in facilities that need to access equipment.

When it comes to hot or cold aisle containment, there are benefits to using both. The key is finding a balance between the two or finding which one works best for your data center needs.

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