When working with any sort of computer infrastructure and design, it can be tempting for non-specialists to consider only the virtual world of software and systems. In fact, however, the physical architecture and layout of a data center can have important implications for efficiency. Many of these implications result from the fact that data centers may be characterized by areas of hot air and areas of cool air.
Hot air, of course, results from the operation of the servers themselves. Anyone who has been in a crowded room with several computers running can attest to the fact that electronics can give off a great deal of heat. In order to combat this heat, cooling and ventilation systems are used. These are vitally important since overheating is a primary cause of system failure, something that no business wants to see occur in its data center.
In order to improve data center operations and efficiency, care must be taken to see that hot and cold air does not mix to an excessive degree. There are two major approaches to guaranteeing this, known as cold air containment and hot air containment. Businesses considering one of the two approaches should keep in mind that working closely with an IT consulting firm with expertise in data center reconfiguration or design can be quite helpful. A qualified IT consultant will be able to explain, for example, why hot air containment can save more than 40 percent of cooling costs as compared to the alternative of cold air containment.