Enabling data center continuity with Vaisala sensors

Workers in a modern data center
Justin Walsh | Vaisala
Justin Walsh
Business Development Engineer
Industrial Measurements

In today’s digital economy, data centers are an essential component of the global technology infrastructure. The services, networking and storage that data centers provide are requisite for modern business. Dependence on their efficient operation is ever increasing, as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) continue to become mainstream.

Growing demand for capacity and speed are driving the industry to expand and optimize, employing significant amounts of equipment that require specific environmental conditions to operate reliably. This escalating demand is combined with the need for continuous and uninterrupted operation. Enabled by a network of sensors, operators consistently monitor conditions to provide assurances to their customers.

Reliability is security

Data centers are often unmanned or minimally staffed, yet they are required to function 99.999% (five nines) of the year, which translates into a maximum permissible annual downtime of just 5 minutes. Data center failures can be devastating to both service providers and end users; therefore, they must be protected from both external and internal environmental influences. Other key considerations include good infrastructure, reliable access to power distribution, and connectivity to principal data routes.

The task of maintaining ideal conditions inside a data center’s thermal envelope is vital to safeguarding operations, demanding the most reliable, consistent, and accurate sensors to provide decision making data. These facilities must be equipped with relative humidity and temperature transmitters, as well as outside weather stations providing pressure, wind, humidity and temperature monitoring. The technologies used must be of excellent quality with absolute reliability to provide accurate and consistent measurements over several years.

Data centers are energy-intensive facilities, currently consuming more than 1% of the world’s total electricity production. This energy is transformed into heat that must be conveyed away from the equipment in order to maintain the correct operating temperature. Therefore, cooling and air conditioning are some of the most important processes in a data center, which account for a larger portion of the total energy use than the computer equipment itself.

Sustainability through efficiency

Data center operators are continuously striving for higher operational and power usage efficiency (PUE). Advanced air conditioning and cooling systems are continually optimized with the help of regionally specific control strategies and accurate environmental monitoring technology. Outdoor measurements are used as a reference for the inside climate, allowing operators to take advantage of airside economizers and adiabatic cooling methods that reduce energy consumption. Indoor measurements provide system balance and assurance that the HVAC system is functioning properly. Performance requirements for computer room air conditioners (CRAC units) are also heightened, as is their reliance on the sensors used for control.

One of the first steps to reducing cooling costs is to properly monitor the environmental conditions by measuring the parameters you need to control and knowing how accurately they need to be measured. For example, using economizers, evaporative cooling, or other strategies will influence what humidity parameters you need from your instruments. Knowing how sensor accuracy can affect calculated variables such as enthalpy and the wet bulb temperature can play a role in the control strategy.

Seeking long-term data center performance

When specifying monitoring instruments, considering the control system requirements, sensor drift and service schedules will help determine the right instrument to suit the data center. As all instruments in critical applications require periodic calibration and checking, instruments that can be conveniently serviced will reduce costs and time spent maintaining the equipment. Selecting instruments whose accuracy and stability meet operational demands as well as optimal maintenance schedules will reduce risk and uncertainty. Even small measurement errors can cause significant increases in your energy bill, so it pays to start with quality instruments and diligently maintain their measurements. This is especially true for datacenters that have minimal staffing and in remote areas.

Vaisala offers many high accuracy transmitters that allow for easy sensor calibration and continuous operation with spare probes, calibration references and our intuitive Insight PC software. Higher accuracy and stability specifications will allow operators to reduce the frequency and effort required for these activities also.

A reliable partner

Data centers are just one of the critical facility applications where Vaisala is a trusted and reliable partner, offering the world's most robust sensors, backed up by dependable support, agreements and deliveries. We can quickly deliver hundreds of pieces of sensor equipment and offer a hassle-free package for any data center anywhere in the world. Vaisala sensors and transmitters are the industry standard for achieving maximum energy efficiency, delivering high quality, accuracy, and flexible calibration options to reduce maintenance costs and low total cost of ownership. The Vaisala offering includes instruments for measuring temperature, relative humidity, wet bulb temperature, dew point temperature, enthalpy, and weather parameters.

Since we invented the modern relative humidity sensor over 45 years ago, we have had a proven track record of global product leadership. Manufacturing and testing all of our sensors in our own cleanrooms, we have complete control over the quality and performance of the equipment we produce, and that you trust.

If you would like to speak with a Vaisala expert, Contact Us.

To learn more about Vaisala’s HVAC and outdoor sensor solutions and how we serve the data center industry, listen to our on-demand webinar "Data Centers Going Green - How much can precise HVAC measurements influence energy consumption of cooling systems?" or download a product catalogue. You are also welcome to visit our industry page for data center controls for an overview of the resources.

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