Enterprise IT professionals face tremendous pressure to keep their data centers running. After all, even the smallest amount of downtime can cost a business plenty in lost productivity and revenue. In their blog, Gartner Group cites an industry average cost for data center downtime at $5,600 /minute, which extrapolates to well over $300K /hour. Not surprisingly, that’s why many data center managers contract with services providers to maintain their power supply equipment.
But in a recent Schneider Electric focus group, data center customers made it clear that it is just as important for them to have a service contract for their data center’s cooling equipment as it is for their uninterruptible power supply (UPS). According to the roundtable participants, this is because cooling equipment requires more energy to run and has more mechanical parts; which means more things to eventually wear down and need replacing.
Further, data centers are required under standards set by ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) to run a temperature up to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Data centers with aging cooling equipment are not only at risk of equipment failure, but they may also struggle to capture the efficiency entitlements that these temperature standards were meant to create, making the data center potentially less efficient and wasting money through unnecessary energy costs. The specific benefits to contracting with a data center cooling equipment service professional will vary based on your risk tolerance, available budget, and compliance requirements, but here are three specific benefits you can count on:
1. Regular service will help avoid unplanned downtime. A well-trained and experienced cooling equipment service professional can identify parts that are near the end of their useful life and replace them before they break down.
Cooling service technicians can check and proactively manage dirty filters, loose wires, temperature trouble spots, and humidifier bottles, among other problems.
2. Maintenance can increase efficiency. Cooling systems are typically very energy intensive and are almost always fueled by electricity. Their operation typically coincides with periods that are subject to peak and time of use charges. These large economic drivers have helped fuel significant advances in the design and efficiency of cooling systems over the last decade. According to the US Small Business administration, today’s air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid 1970s.
Efficiency improvements are attainable in a few ways. Things like cleaning leaves from condenser coils can significantly increase cooling system energy consumption without replacing any components. However, in some cases replacing particular components will also increase efficiency. This means that even if service professionals are only replacing components within your existing cooling system as part of a regular maintenance initiative, you are likely to benefit from energy savings.
3. Cooling equipment can be optimized. Many enterprises run their data centers at much lower temperatures than necessary, wasting money in the process. A qualified cooling equipment service technician can study the layout of the data center, determine the best location for cooling equipment, and how best to maintain it.
Once data center managers buy-into the operational and financial advantages of a cooling equipment service contract, the next step is to choose a service provider. There are many different types of cooling service contractors to choose from ranging from small local shops to large OEM suppliers. Which is right for you depends on your individual company needs; however, there are some important qualifications that you should require of any service provider.
As described earlier, today’s cooling systems are comprised of sophisticated components. To properly handle this equipment, you want to ensure that your service provider offers factory-trained technicians that are armed with the proper tools and product knowledge to get the most out of your system. Factory trained certification is important to your business for three key reasons. First, it ensures that your product warranties will remain intact. Second, it allows technicians to more accurately diagnose and solve problems with your equipment before they cause bigger issues. And third, it provides you with an opportunity to have your equipment optimized to ensure maximum efficiency. The best cooling systems partner will not only address maintenance issues, but will also provide clear suggestions on how to improve the overall efficiency of your data center cooling infrastructure through best practices and use of the latest product features.
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