A data corridor in a data center utilising cold aisle containment

Aisle containment refers to the layout of a data center, designed to optimise airflow throughout the data center, ultimately conserving energy and lowering cooling costs. Both cold aisle and hot aisle containment are viable containment options for data center cooling, both with the same goal in mind to separate the cold and hot air in the data center. But every data center is different and both methods have different benefits. Whichever works best for you and your data center will depend on several factors.

Most IT and server equipment in a data center will draw cold air in through the front of the unit and expel hot air from the back. With the server racks placed in rows all facing the same way in a data corridor, then a consistent cold airflow will be achieved through all units. However, the orientation of each corridor must be alternated, else the hot air exhausted from the back of the first row will be drawn into the front of the second row and so on with each row getting hotter. This can cause significant overheating risks, and so the solution is to orient the racks with the front of the servers facing each other. The hot air will be expelled out into its own aisle, creating the alternating hot aisle and cold aisle structure.

Containing these hot and cold aisles can prevent the mingling of the hot and cold air and enable more precise temperature control and more effective cooling. Cold aisle containment is considered to be much easier to implement in an existing data center, and involves placing doors at each end of the aisle and some form of a roof over the top to keep the cold air fully separated from the hot air. It is easy to fit cold aisle containment solutions and is generally less expensive than hot aisle containment. However, with the cold aisle contained the data center room itself becomes the hot aisle as a whole, which can reduce the overall efficiency of the system.

Hot aisle containment also involves placing doors at the end of the data corridor and utilises elements such as baffles and in row cooling to cool the air and recycle it into the cold aisle. Hot aisle containment is generally considered to be more effective in cooling a data center and in reducing energy costs.  It creates a cold environment in the data center, which is much better for efficiency, however this means the contained hot aisles can reach very high and uncomfortable temperatures for technicians to work in should they need access to the hot aisle. Hot aisle containment is also the more expensive option as it involves the installation of additional equipment to contain and return the exhausted hot air.

Both options come with benefits and drawbacks, but both have the same aim to improve airflow and efficiency. Whether hot aisle or cold aisle containment works for you can depend on the size and layout of your data center as well as budget and resources. USystems aims to offer effective data center cooling solutions such as data racks and in row cooling that reduce energy usage, improve productivity and save you money. Whether you’re looking for a hot aisle or cold aisle containment solution, see how our product range can help to keep your data center running smoothly.

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