September 08, 2008, 9:52 AM — There is a certain feng shui to laying out your datacenter. It has nothing to do with putting a palm plant in an east-facing window or organizing the racks so that they all face the door. Reorganizing your datacenter can help reduce the amount of money you spend to cool it. Best of all, these changes cost you no money - you'll expend just some time and a little sweat. Chances are as your business grew, so did your dependence on technology and your data center was cobbled together rack-by-rack. The best thing to do is sit down with an empty sheet of paper (or fire up Visio) and reorganize how the datacenter is laid out.
Here are some points to consider:
Figure Out Which Servers And Other Equipment You Need
Extra, unneeded equipment just takes up space. Worse, if it's running, then it's generating heat - heat that you will need to counter with additional cooling. If you can remove unnecessary servers, you won't have to pay to run them or to cool them. If you can virtualize its duties onto another server, you're better off.
Implement A Hot Aisle/Cool Aisle Philosophy
This is where you might have to take off your coat and roll up your sleeves. You should have your server racks in a hot aisle/cool aisle configuration. This means that the fan intakes on racks across from each other are facing, while the exhausts on neighboring racks face each other.
The reason is obvious: You don't want a rack's input sucking in the hot exhaust from a neighboring rack. This cuts down on heat generation, and it also helps prolong the life of your equipment.
As a bonus, if you have an elevated floor, you can buy tiles with slots in them. Place these slotted tiles in the cool aisle. This allows cool air from the subfloor to come up and be part of the cooling solution. Again, less air-conditioning needs to be churned out because you'll be optimizing your existing cooling by managing airflow.
Revisit Your Cable Maintenance
If you've been adding racks of equipment bit-by-bit, chances are you've got cabling strung through the subfloor willy-nilly. Organization doesn't just matter in the datacenter proper - you need to think about what's going on in that subfloor. Pop your head into the subfloor and look carefully at the cabling. Make sure that all the cable is bundled together neatly. Also, take out any old cables or debris. This ensures that air flows smoothly through the subfloor and is able to come through the slotted tiles and vents.
You can realize big savings on cooling costs if you reorganize your datacenter. You'll have to put some time into it, but you won't have to spend much money (maybe a little bit if you're buying slotted tiles), and in the end you'll spend a lot less on electricity each month.