Data Center Managers Increasingly Worried Over Heat Density

Heat density is once again becoming a top-of-mind issue for data center managers, according to a spring survey of data center users from Emerson Network Power.

The spring installment of the biannual survey, sponsored by Emerson Network Power, polled members of the Data Center Users’ Group, an association of influential data center, IT and facility managers, and captured input from more than 100 respondents across North America. The questions covered a variety of data center topics including data center monitoring and management, capacity constraints, third-party colocation providers, energy efficiency and heat and power density.

The survey results show that, for the first time in two years, heat density is again one of the three biggest concerns for data center professionals. When asked to identify their top three facility/network concerns, 42 percent of respondents cited heat density, ranking it third, behind energy efficiency (49 percent) and adequate monitoring (51 percent). Heat density was cited as the number one concern for the first four years of the survey, starting in 2005. In the spring 2012 survey, it dropped to fourth place, and adequate monitoring, availability and energy efficiency remained in the top three until this spring’s survey.

Throughout the past few years, much emphasis has been placed on availability, infrastructure monitoring and efficiency, according to Bob Miller, vice president, Liebert, Emerson Network Power in North America, and a member of the DCUG board of directors.

As data center professionals continue to struggle with growing capacity needs and tightened budgets, attention is turning back to one of the most fundamental aspects of the data center infrastructure – effectively and efficiently managing heat, says Miller. If not addressed, heat density issues threaten to negatively impact performance levels of the data center, he adds.

The trend toward consolidation and growth is reflected in the plans data center professionals have for their data centers throughout the next 12 months. When asked the question, 65 percent plan to consolidate or replace existing servers, 64 percent plan to add additional servers, 27 percent plan to consolidate multiple data centers and 19 percent plan to build a new data center. While 26 percent expressed plans to move at least part of their operation to colocation or hosting providers, there are still some perceived drawbacks to the option. Seventy percent cited lack of control as the primary drawback of utilizing a colocation or hosting provider; this was followed by increased cost (53 percent),  a setup not unique to specific needs (29 percent) and security concerns (22 percent).

In ENP’s November 2012 edition of the survey energy efficiency was the leading response to the question for the first time since the survey began in 2005. In spring of 2009, efficiency had reached the second position, and as recently as spring 2012, it was at the third position. Adequate monitoring and data center management (46.3 percent) and availability (45.7 percent) were second and third on the list of top concerns last fall.

Do you manage a data center? What is the most pressing concern affecting your job? Please tell us in the comments section below.

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