Data Centre Environmental Audit - A Holistic Approach

Reliable IT Environments (RITEL) measures all aspects of your data centre environment, using the most up-to-date and relevant techniques and equipment. Each audit is performed by highly experienced staff, adept at quantifying performance and recognising conditions that could impact your business.

All findings are compared with the latest industry standards, best practice standards, and our own database of results so that you receive best-of-breed information. The findings are presented in a comprehensive, fully illustrated report in which areas of concern are highlighted, well explained and accompanied by practical recommendations.  The Reliable IT Environmental Audit examines:

  • Power Quality and Distribution
  • Power Utilisation Efficiency (PUE)
  • Earth and Wiring Integrity
  • Zinc Whisker Inspection
  •  Temperature and Humidity Fluctuations. (Extended time periods)
  • Air Filtration and Conditioning
  • Room and Equipment Airflow
  • Sound, Noise, Vibration
  • Contamination and Airborne Particle Counts to ISO 14644-1
  • Electromagnetic Radiation Effects and Electrostatic Control
  • Health and Safety, and Physical Security

How the RITEL Data Centre Audit has Prevented Problems - Case Studies

Excessive heat at front of cabinet traced to abnormal air flow

A RITEL data centre audit found that the front of some cabinets were warm to the touch, despite adequate hall cooling. We conducted anemometer experiments and measured the case temperature of each server. Inlet temperatures rose with height above floor tile level and begin to exceed recommendations for best reliability at a height of about 1.5m. We found that the front was hot for two reasons: it was warmed externally by hot exhaust from surrounding cabinets and internally, by a microclimate set up in the middle of the cabinet. Within the cabinet, all servers were spaced 1U to give better entry flow of air but blanking plates were missing. In the middle of the cabinet, exiting air flow slowed down enough to be drawn back to the front of the servers where it mixed with cold air running up the front before passing into the server. We recommended that the customer fit 1U blanking plates to separate warm air at the rear from cold air at front from a height of 1m above tile level. This allowed fans to draw all warm air out at the top.

Image of server cabinet, showing gradual increase in temperature, from bottom to top.  Arrows at the bottom point to cool airflow from floor void into cabinet.  Red colour around the middle of the cabinet show the increase in temperature at that point.

Low humidity had not been flagged by BMS System

A RITEL data centre audit identified a failed humidifier unit early in the audit. Our 7 day recording showed very low humidity initially but by day 3 humidity had dramatically increased. We traced the problem to a failed humidifier unit which was repaired by the client and humidity was restored quickly.  Low humidity had not been flagged by the BMS system.

Graph showing a green line as humidity and blue line as temperature.  Both lines are stable until, on day three, green line increases dramatically, showing increase in humidity.

Audit uncovered source of ‘not-yet-mature’ zinc whiskers which were then removed before causing problems

Routine sampling of raised floor pedestals revealed zinc whiskers. The longest whisker was only 200 microns, less than the critical length known to cause problems with electronic circuitry. Zinc whiskers continue to grow, albeit at a slower rate as time progresses, until they may be dislodged and cause a reliability problem. Because of the location of these whiskers (in the floor void which was subjected to directed airflow) longer whiskers could present reliability problems, by causing short circuits in voltage driven (CMOS) chips. We recommended that the whiskers be removed soon, while they were still short and unlikely to cause a problem, then the area should be monitored for future whisker growth.

EDX Blue graph showing peaks of Zinc

Audit uncovered power abnormalities which were traced to a failing UPS capacitor

A RITEL data centre audit found intermittent waveshape faults and variable rms voltage on one phase of the 3-phase supply. The cause was found to be a failing capacitor in the solid state UPS system. Unit was repaired before any loss of service occurred.

A sine wave.  The arrow points to a brief wavering of the line at peak.

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