Data centers are no place for jungles or deserts

Data centers are no place for jungles or deserts

If the air in your data center feels like a jungle, than something is very wrong.

Data center management involves unrelenting upkeep of many thousands of dollars worth of high-maintenance equipment. This involves maximizing energy efficiency and ensuring that hardware stays at safe temperatures. The failure to adequately perform either of these tasks can result in costly downtime, wasted resources or worse, a data center fire. 

Another, somewhat less discussed hazard in the data center is the issue of air quality. Humidity and dew point are both extremely important factors in the data center environment, and improper maintenance of either can precipitate severe consequences. 

A data center is no place for rain-forest conditions

Much like cats, electronics generally don't do well with water. This is especially true in a data center environment. Horror stories abound about how a leaky ceiling or broken pipe has resulted in data center floods causing downtime and ruined equipment. Catastrophes such as this can and do happen. However, the more deleterious and ultimately more common water damage culprit is humidity. 

When too much moisture in the air, the risk of condensation increases. Over time, water can corrode data center equipment, or lead to electrical shorts that may result in downtime. To ensure that this does not happen the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers recommends that data center humidity in the server room be kept somewhere in the realm of 60 to 80 percent.

Another important metric to consider is dew point. ASHRAE recommends lower dew point limit of about 41.9 degrees Fahrenheit and an upper dew point limit of 59 degrees F. Dew point, which is defined as the temperature at which condensation occurs, is valuable for determining humidity levels. In order for vapor to condense into water, it must touch a surface that is at or below the dew point. Thus, the temperature of data center equipment has a huge bearing on whether or not condensation will occur. And because this equipment must maintain a certain temperature to run safely and efficiently, there is a bit of a climate balancing act taking place that cannot be perfected without the use of climate monitoring. 

The last thing a data center manager wants is jungle-like conditions in his or her facility. 

But the desert dryness is bad, too

Too much or too little of anything is generally bad. This is the case with water in the data center, and is ultimately the reason ASHRAE also has minimum humidity levels. If there are not enough water molecules in the air, the data center environment is at risk of generating static electricity. Like condensation, this electrostatic charge can result in damage to equipment, according to The Data Center Journal. In other words, data center managers do not want to mimic the air quality of the Sahara, or the Amazon. They want that happy medium of fresh mountain air.  

Finding this middle ground is impossible without the use of delicate sensors that are part of a climate monitoring solution such as Geist Watchdog