29 March 2018

Data Centre experts predict growth in HVAC equipment retrofits

AFCOM the rapidly growing community focused on educating, connecting and guiding the data centre and IT infrastructure industry, has published their ‘2018 State of the Data Centre’ report and one of the key findings highlighted, involves a predicted upturn in refurbishment projects as data centres strive to retrofit their legacy equipment and infrastructure to keep their critical facilities efficient and competitive.

In 2018 and beyond, new solutions and concepts around data centre architecture will force business leaders and IT professionals to think a little differently when it comes to helping the data centre run more optimally and create competitive advantages.

They presented the key findings during a keynote at this month’s Data Centre World Global conference. Members of AFCOM can download the full State of the Data Centre report on the AFCOM site; here’s a summary of the key findings:

Growth in the Data Centre Industry

When respondents were asked about data centre growth, we found that ownership, renovations, and building were on the upswing.

• 58% of respondents currently own between two and nine data centre facilities

• 19% said they own 10 or more data centres.

• The average number of data centres each organisation manages sits around 8 today.

• Responders indicated that on average 5 data centres will be renovated per organisation. That number increases to 8 data centres over the course of 12 months.

Three-Year Forecast

• The average number of data centres managed will increase to 10 per organisation over the next three years.

• Over three years, responders said that on average, 13 data centres per organisation will be renovated.

Another interesting set of statistics indicated that new data centre construction will grow more than five times over the next three years.

Growing Requirements Around Cooling, Power, Redundancy, Management, and Power Sources

To support increased levels of density, organisations are looking into new types of power sources for help. For example, nearly 42% of respondents indicated that they’ve either already deployed some type of renewable energy source or are planning to do so over the course of 12 months. Of those, 60% said that these new energy sources will help their organisation achieve new green initiatives and help lower ROI and/or TCO of the data centre.

Final Thoughts and Looking Ahead

The data centre continues to be an absolutely critical part of the business. Beyond anything else, we’re going to see new kinds of demands and business requirements which will impact the way we leverage technology and the entire data centre model. Solutions around efficiency, convergence, and the edge will all help shape the design and deployment of the modern data centre.

There’s no doubt that key technology trends towards the Internet of Things (IoT), a rising volume of digital traffic, and the increasing adoption of cloud-based applications are shaping the landscape of data centres facilities and infrastructure managers are now faced with the problem of how to handle aging HVAC equipment.

The decision to replace or retrofit/refurbish HVACR equipment depends on several factors, including the age of the legacy equipment, the short-term and long-term financial considerations of the options, and how critical the overall system is to the data centres reliability and performance.

Data centres consume large amounts of energy to run and maintain computer systems, servers, and other associated high-performance components. The amount of heat generated from this equipment creates an environment where almost half of the overall energy consumed by the Data centre is used to simply cool the hardware. Performance requirements are still increasing, and the larger the volume of data, the greater the required cooling capacity and energy consumption.

One of the most pressing challenges faced by data centre managers is how to keep their aged data centres upgraded and running with a reduced operation cost. New build data centres have the advantage of being able to install the latest high efficiency systems compared to existing sites which must consider energy efficiency improvement and system upgrade plans.

On average, around 50% of all electrical energy consumed in a data centre is for cooling. This may be due to the fact that some legacy data centres often have inefficient cooling equipment; typically CRAC units (Computer Room Air Conditioning Units). These tend to be belt driven forward curved AC fans, running at a fixed speed. Constantly increasing data volumes require more cooling capacity, so efficient cooling concepts could provide enormous energy savings.

Inefficient CRAC units can be upgraded by replacing the original AC fans with high efficiency backward curved EC fans. In addition to having a more efficient motor, EC fans also offer the opportunity for simple speed control, which could provide additional energy savings. Recent upgrade projects on a number of CRAC units have shown that energy savings in excess of 50% can be achieved, simply by replacing the AC fans with EC fans. Additional savings of a further 10 - 20% can easily be achieved by reducing the fan speed. With our GreenTech EC fans, the impeller, motor and electronics form a compact unit that is far superior to conventional AC solutions.

Inside a data centre are rows of servers storing information on chains of hard drives that all need to run continuously. This equipment can get very hot and therefore has to be cooled constantly. This heat should be removed as efficiently as possible. In order to leverage these changing dynamics and utilise technology as a competitive advantage for the business, data centre modernisation often is required.

According to Information Age, Recent research has revealed that 81% of CIOs believe legacy systems are having a negative impact on their businesses, but although there is clearly a case for infrastructure investment, the need to disrupt needn’t be tantamount to huge expenditure.

Global real estate giant also JLL acknowledged this in their Research Report at the Year-End 2017 Data Centre Outlook. They predict that through 2018 and well into 2019, we can expect to see significant resources, from both the operator and occupier sides, to be dedicated to innovations ranging from efficient cooling systems and servers up to optimised IT functionality and load adjustment. This uptick in IT and hardware innovation spend will play out across the global M&A stage for the next several years to come, as key players continually strive to be ahead of the game.

Depending on the structural conditions, the technology used and the climate and conditions in your data centre, several retrofit solutions will work. If you are unsure what to upgrade in your data centre, you can learn more here and you can book a free site survey and we’ll take you through the options for upgrading your legacy data centre cooling systems with our highly efficient technologies.

Download our Data Centre Brochure here.

Hannah Morphew
Marketing and Commercial Assistant