Fire Department - Know How To Fireproof Your Data Center

Written by Elizabeth Millard

Of allrepparttar cool technology in a data center, there’s one system that no one ever wants to use or even have tested:repparttar 145630 fire protection system. Of allrepparttar 145631 dangers to a bank of machines, smoke and flames rank right up there with flooding and natural disasters as a top concern for IT managers. Fortunately, there are ways to minimizerepparttar 145632 threat with careful planning and, especially,repparttar 145633 right products.

Must-Haves For those fortunate enough to be able to build a new data center, fire protection options abound. Thanks torepparttar 145634 increased importance of technology andrepparttar 145635 subsequent higher profile for data centers, architects and builders are more aware that these centers have special issues. That’s led torepparttar 145636 creation of more clean-agent fire suppression systems that use chemicals rather than water.

The systems work by breaking uprepparttar 145637 chemical reaction of fire. Each product employs this strategy in a slightly different way, but most targetrepparttar 145638 oxygen that fire uses to spread. With no oxygen molecules,repparttar 145639 fire essentially smothers, and equipment is safe because there’s no toxic residue or chemical damage withrepparttar 145640 tactic. Systems include Inergen, Sapphire, and ECARO-25.

When building a new center, planning on incorporating systems such as these is essential, says Peter Sacco, president of design firm PTS Data Center Solutions. “When you’re constructing a new center, you’re going to have to put in a different system thanrepparttar 145641 rest ofrepparttar 145642 building will have,” he notes. “Most likely, every other part ofrepparttar 145643 building will have sprinklers, so an IT manager will have to be involved inrepparttar 145644 planning to make sure that’s not automatically put intorepparttar 145645 data center, as well.”

One ofrepparttar 145646 newest fire suppression systems is aerosol-based, he adds, coming intorepparttar 145647 data center world fromrepparttar 145648 space industry. These systems, such as Aero-K, either deliver an oxygen-snuffing aerosol gas or use aerosol to propel other types of gas that hang inrepparttar 145649 atmosphere and basically wrap a protective blanket around systems. Although these aerosol-based systems are only just starting to be introduced in new center construction, Sacco believes they should be more widespread withinrepparttar 145650 next few years. (For more information on Aero-K, seerepparttar 145651 “The Coolest Thing: Aero-K” sidebar below.)

Buyer Beware If a company is relocating or colocating its data center, fire protection should already be in place, but Sacco warns that there should be special care taken when signingrepparttar 145652 lease on a place that has Halon 1301 as its fire suppression system.

Consider An Emergency Generator

Written by by Steven S. Ross

Should you supplement battery-based uninterruptible data center power supplies with an emergency generator? Vendors sayrepparttar question has been coming up with increasing frequency as word spreads about summer rolling blackouts and brownouts and drops in service reliability. Two years ago, 50 million people in eight states fromrepparttar 145629 Midwest to New York lost power for at least 24 hours in one giant blackout.

Amercan Power Conversion and other vendors note that specific localities can have much higher outage rates, either because of building-specific problems or bad weather (lightning strikes inrepparttar 145630 Southeast, for example, or tornadoes inrepparttar 145631 Midwest). In a rolling blackout, power to industrial facilities is often shut down first. New data center managers should checkrepparttar 145632 utilities contract to see ifrepparttar 145633 data center is subject to such utility disconnects.

A Growing Problem

“Deregulation ofrepparttar 145634 power industry has had a real effect on people’s needs to support their systems during shutdowns or to ride through a shutdown,” says Bill Hunt, product line manager forrepparttar 145635 power generation systems group at APC. Despite that, he says, customers typically admit that they’ve considered a backup generator but rejectedrepparttar 145636 idea because ofrepparttar 145637 design work required.

“A UPS provides clean power, guarding against surges and drops,” says Dan McHugh, project manager at PTS Data Center Solutions. “In order to provide longer-term power, you’d need racks and racks of batteries. A generator allows you to be out two to three days, so you’re not losing money.” PTS is a consulting firm that does design work, construction, or construction management.

Says Hunt, “Our small and medium business customers started to come to us looking for longer runtimes. It used to be seven to 10 minutes, and now they were asking for two hours or more.” A well-designed emergency generator can run for days.

A data center with seven to 12 racks full of equipment needs 20KW to 40KW to stay up. The cost, installed with proper electronics for testing as well as for emergencies, with noise and air pollution controls, is typically $35,000 to $40,000, vendors say?after warning that installation costs can vary enormously.

Vendors say that units up to 20KW, on a concrete ground-level pad, are standard enough in many circumstances to be “ordered onrepparttar 145638 phone,” in Hunt’s words. But anything larger will require some specialized expertise and more careful configuration. Local electrical and HVAC contractors can point data center personnel inrepparttar 145639 right direction.

It is little wonder that data center management worries aboutrepparttar 145640 cost. But over time,repparttar 145641 price doesn’t seem as high. “That’s aboutrepparttar 145642 same as an extra 45 minutes to an hour’s worth of batteries,” says Hunt, “amortized over about 10 years.” Asrepparttar 145643 kilowatt requirements rise,repparttar 145644 generator option gets cheaper by comparison. But site problems, especially lack of space outsiderepparttar 145645 building to pour a concrete pad forrepparttar 145646 generator and noise-attenuating enclosure, can inflaterepparttar 145647 cost quickly.

Michael Dauffenbach, industrial sales region manager for Katolight, saysrepparttar 145648 generator itself might be only a third or halfrepparttar 145649 total cost. “A 15KW gas [typically propane] unit’s list price is about $10,000,” he says, “and diesel is aboutrepparttar 145650 same.”

As capacity increases, diesel prices rise more slowly than gas. At 250KW, diesels cost about $45,000 and gas $90,000, again, forrepparttar 145651 generator alone. APC doesn’t see propane or natural gas as practical above 150KW. About a quarter ofrepparttar 145652 units APC sells run on gas, withrepparttar 145653 rest on diesel fuel.

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