Very few data center companies offer a 100% service level agreement (SLA) on their environmental systems (cooling). SMH Colocation is one of those few. But why should you care about a 100% SLA on cooling systems. Because you can’t afford not to.
Think about what happens if the cooling in a data center doesn’t work properly. With the cooling system down, you now have a sealed room, with little to no ventilation and 100s to 1000s of computers and systems that generate a significant amount of heat. In a full data center, without cooling, the temperature can rise significantly in just a few minutes.
The ideal operating temperature for a computer is 68° to 75° F. Computers generate a lot of heat. Without sufficient cooling, a data center room’s temperature can rise 10° to 20° F in just a few minutes. Consistently operating at a computer at a temperature of 85° F or higher can lead to intermittent failures, faulty responses or even a complete lock up. Over time, at high temperatures, the computer or system can actually burn up.
High temperature issues can cause any of a number of things to happen. Some of these include warping of system boards, melting of chip solder or seizing up of drives. Even if there is not an immediate failure, high temperature can significantly reduce the longevity of systems. Sometimes, the systems can recover from these issues, but with 10s of thousands of dollars of equipment at stake, not to mention the operation and availability of your business applications, high temperature is an issue you never want your computers to experience.
It is precisely because of the importance of maintaining proper room temperature that SMH Colocation has invested such a significant amount in the cooling infrastructure of our data center. To begin with, the environmental systems were designed to provide sufficient cooling to maintain recommended temperature levels at the maximum capacity of the data center. This is an important point. Many data centers don’t consider the heat load of a full data center. If they don’t they can be left scrambling to come up with adhoc ways to reduce the center’s heat as they add customers and fill up their center.
To amplify the ability of the cooling system, our data center is laid out with hot and cold alternating aisles. This helps prevent the development of hot spots (from a large congregation of heat generators) as well as makes it easier to focus cooling towards the hot areas.
Another important point about cooling systems is that you want them running all the time. There are three aspects to consider in this. First, you need sufficient redundancy in key systems so that if something fails, you have another system to pick up the slack. With SMH Colocation, all our systems are N+1, meaning that there is at least 1 extra system beyond the number of systems needed to provide cooling at maximum capacity. That holds true for the systems themselves too. Ours have 2 compressors in each one. We’ve even gone so far as to have 4 cooling towers, even though we only use 3.
The second concern with keeping systems running all the time is pretty straight forward. You need water. Cooling systems use water to cool. Without it, they simply don’t work. Most data centers get their water supplied via the local water authority. The problem is, what happens if this water supply is interrupted (which happens more often than you sometimes realize). For most data centers, without water, they can’t cool and then you go back to having temperature issues. SMH Colocation is one of only a handful of data centers that have an onsite water reservoir for the cooling systems. We have a 24,000 gallon water reservoir, consisting of four 6,000 gallon tanks located on the immediate premises. With SMH, no water is no problem.
And this is not a trivial concern. Water shortages are becoming an increasing issue. Even if there is not an out and out interruption of service, there is the very real likelihood of water rationing and use limits. Another concern is a burst pipe. The Los Angeles area has been in the news recently with a rash of burst pipes. By having our own water on site, water rationing or bad pipe issues will not affect us
The third concern is power. Of course, cooling systems need electric power to run. Many data centers have backup generators to supply power if there is a power interruption. However, a lot of data centers only have sufficient generator capacity to run the servers and a few other minimal systems. THEIR COOLING SYSTEM IS NOT TIED INTO THE BACKUP POWER. If you consider that in many cases, it can take a power utility hours to restore power, you realize that if power goes down that such a data center could have a serious temperature problem. It does you no good to keep your server running if that is ultimately going to cause it to burn up!
At SMH Colocation you don’t have to worry about this either. Our backup generators have N+1 capacity for a completely full data center and all the necessary cooling systems needed to cool a full center. With SMH Colocation, your computers will be cool, comfortable and secure. It’s the peace of mind your company deserves. And we put it in writing with a 100% SLA on our environmental systems.