Data Center Environmental Standards

February 1, 2019

The data center environment is crucially tied to the equipment — and its performance. Typically, computer room environments are classified according to a four-tier system. Tier I defines data center standards for facilities with minimal redundancy features. The system gradually increases its environmental expectations, until Tier IV denotes data centers with multiple redundancy features and 99.995 percent anticipated uptime.

Of course, not every business wants or needs to spend the kind of money Tier IV service provides. However, even for Tier I data centers, uptime is expected to be in the range of 99.671 percent — or approximately 29 hours of downtime over the course of an entire year. What this means is that all data centers — regardless of their tiered classifications — are expected to maintain fairly stringent environmental standards.

Data Center Environment Controls

To understand environmental standards that apply to all data centers providing acceptable operating conditions to the IT equipment they house, consider the following four environmental controls. It’s also important to note that these controls are largely informed by the latest data center environmental standards as published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers — or ASHRAE — such as ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 90.4-2016, which sets out energy efficiency requirements for today’s data centers. The four factors are:

  1. Temperature control: Thermal control will always remain an important issue for data centers since servers give off heat while in operation but can be crippled by excessive temperatures. However, due to newer, more robust IT equipment, ASHRAE’s previous recommended thermal range of 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit has recently been broadened to 65 to 80 degrees. In addition, experienced IT engineers — like the professionals at DataSpan — have discovered how to optimize the arrangement of servers to make better use of servers’ fans and other internal cooling mechanisms.
  2. Humidity control: High humidity and moisture levels can put hardware at risk of failure. For this reason, cooling and ventilation systems need to detect and control relative humidity in computer room air. ASHRAE recommends operating within a dew point of 41.9 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit — with a relative humidity of 60 percent maximum.
  3. Electricity monitoring: An unplanned burst of energy in the form of static electricity discharge might be the greatest threat to the average data center’s performance. To prevent these types of incidents from happening, remember that responsible data center design includes the installation of energy monitors that are strategically located to spot the buildup of static electricity.
  4. Security systems: From fire protection and suppression systems to physical and virtual security measures, safeguarding the overall data center from attacks and disasters is a must in the vigilant control of its environment. And like with any security measure that’s employed in the time of an emergency and/or threat, these systems must be regularly tested and evaluated to ensure that their performance and effectiveness are up to par.

Reliable Environmental Control Begins With DataSpan

Since 1974, our team at DataSpan has been helping data centers optimize their performance. We’re able to focus on your needs entirely because we’re vendor-agnostic and experts in our field.

To learn more about how we can help your data center with all of its environmental control needs, contact us today.

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