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78% of UK data centres fail ASHRAE guidelines – is IoT the answer?

25 Jul 2017

New research from thermal risk experts has revealed UK data centres are seriously lacking when it comes to temperature management.

EkkoSense’s analysis of some 128 UK data centre halls and over 16,500 IT equipment racks found that almost 80 percent of UK data centres are currently non-compliant with recent American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments.

This comes on the back of research released earlier this year from EkkoSense of the same amount of data centres and racks that found 66 percent of percent of equipment achieved poor levels of cooling utilisation, which was put down to poor airflow management and lack of accurate monitoring.

According to EkkoSense, the ASHRAE standard is widely regarded as the best practice thermal guide for data centre operators with clear recommendations for effective data centre temperature testing.

“ASHRAE’s recommendations speak directly to the risks that data centre operators face from non-compliance, and almost all operators use this as their stated standard,” says James Kirkwood, head of critical services at EkkoSense.

“Our own research reveals that 11 percnet of IT racks in the 128 data centre halls we surveyed were actually outside of ASHRAE’s recommended range of an 18-27º C recommended rack inlet temperature - even though this range was the agreed performance window that clients were working towards.”

Kirkwood asserts that the company also found that 78% of data centres had at least one server rack that lay outside that range – effectively taking their data centre outside of thermal compliance.”

“Unfortunately the problem for the majority of data centre operators that only monitor general data centre room/aisle temperatures is that average measurements don’t identify hot and cold spots,” says Kirkwood.

“Without a more precise thermal monitoring strategy and the technologies to support it, organisations will always remain at risk – and ASHRAE non-compliant – from individual racks that lie outside the recommended range.”

Kirkwood says the the latest generation of Internet of Things-enabled temperature sensors – introduced since the initial publication of ASHRAE’s report – is likely to prove instrumental in helping organisations to cost-effectively resolve their non-compliance issues.

“Our research shows that less than 5% of data centres are actively monitoring and reporting individual rack temperatures and their compliance,” says Kirkwood.

“The result is that they therefore have no way of knowing if they are actually truly compliant – and that’s a major concern when it comes to data centre risk management.”

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