With a major growth in data centres, James Smurthwaite looks at what is needed for 24/7 cooling

According to the latest research figures, the UK data centre market will reach a value of almost £6.5 billion by 2025. The UK is already the leading market for colocation data centres, with growing domestic demand.

The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated this growth considerably. Early 2020 saw many companies shift their employees rapidly to home working, putting increased pressure on data services. Microsoft reported a 1,000% increase in the use of its Teams virtual meeting service in March 2020.

Companies which had been relying on in-house data centres quickly realised that the pressure was too high a risk (given the costs of outages and data loss) and switched to more substantial and more reliable providers offsite.

UK businesses were already moving to cloud-based providers with business cloud services growing exponentially in recent years. Research from McAfee at the end of 2019 showed that 40% of companies expected to be cloud-only by 2021. Businesses see increased productivity and innovation, as well as staff efficiency and better standards of security as the benefits. 

Density is the factor to consider when looking at cooling options

James Smurthwaite James Smurthwaite Business Development Manager

Changing nature

Data centres themselves have also been changing in nature. Most people probably imagine a data centre to be a vast out-of-town IT fortress (and these are still the backbone of the sector).

However, the demand for data has changed. We now expect it at our fingertips in seconds (or less). In response to consumer attitudes, we see the growth of what are known as edge data centres. These are smaller and closer to towns and cities – bringing cloud computing services physically closer to the people using it. 

With the world relying heavily on 24-7 availability, there is no room for failure in today's data centres. One of the main factors data centre FMs have to contend with is cooling. After the IT load, this is probably the most significant energy user in the building. 

What’s your density?

Density is the factor to consider when looking at cooling options. It refers to the amount of cooling power required to remove heat produced by the IT equipment. For IT cooling applications where the cooling power needed in a single rack is less than 5kW, this would be described as low density. Medium-density indicates a required cooling power of between 5kw and 15kW; high density refers to cooling power of more than 15kW.

With more businesses moving to the cloud, and greater reliance on our data centres, calculating cooling requirements and ensuring a highly reliable service is becoming more complex. More IT equipment in a space makes cooling more challenging. For example, in low-density applications, it is possible to maintain temperatures in the rack by controlling the overall room temperature. The most common solution is perimeter cooling.

However, as the density of racks increases, the risk of localised hot-spots in a space grows. These can lead to catastrophic failure if they get out of hand. Localised cooling, closer to the racks, is needed to lower this risk.  In-row or rear door coolers bring the conditioned air right up to the server inlet – this is commonly referred to as close-coupled air conditioning.

A partner with the right solution

In this business environment and faced with rapidly-changing demands, it’s crucial to find a partner who can provide high-quality cooling equipment that can ensure the right solution whatever the cooling demand.

At Mitsubishi Electric, we have extensive experience of working across the data centre sector, providing innovative solutions for a fast-moving industry. We have worked closely with data centre clients to develop solutions that reach from small to large capacity centres, and that can also support the challenging ‘mid-range’ data centre requirements with our s-MEXT DX.

Mitsubishi Electric’s range of dedicated IT cooling equipment means that we can support clients who are looking for advice on cooling for an in-house IT room to an edge centre or the largest data ‘warehouse’.

To find out more, see our dedicated IT Cooling website: https://les.mitsubishielectric.co.uk/end-users/application-by-sector/data-centres.

James Smurthwaite, Business Development Manager