Modeling your data center using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) can help get a better picture of the data center performance, hot spots, air flows, pressures and more. There are natural concerns about the cost, complexity, and how a CFD can compliment your floor design and work with your Data Center Information Management (DCIM) tools.
CFD modeling can help answer some of the sophisticated ‘what-if’ scenarios, such as new system deployment, optimizing power space and cooling, and potential results of equipment failures. Additionally hot and cold aisle containment can be modeled to see how well a deployment may operate. Modifications and upgrades in one part of the data center can affect other areas that are seemingly unrelated; CFD modeling helps to identify those relationships, similar to a weathermap that changes as the factors are altered.
Primarily CFD modeling has been used to understand and address how best to resolve environmental issues in order to protect equipment and reduce costs. As the modeling advances and becomes closer to reality, new options allow for better construction results when laying out a data center to maximize it’s space and power.
Today most DCIM tools provide a good depiction of the data center in its current state; adding the predictive capability of modeling can provide more accurate answers to possible deployments. While DCIM gathers and shows the data center capacities and efficiencies, the CFD modeling tools can take this detailed information to provide more accurate results. For instance, while a DCIM solution can allocate a server being installed at a location and the power allocated, the CFD model will review how adjacent servers and cabinets will be affected.
In-row cooling units (IRCs) have been one of the latest solutions to provide cooling to higher density rows of racks. But knowing how many and where to place them can be a complex question to ask let alone solve. Knowing how the data center has been behaving via DCIM and then applying a theoretical model to predict the actual application of the IRCs can lead to a reduced number of IRCs as well as the best locations to maximize their efficiency.
Would a CFD model help with every server deployment? Not necessarily, but for large-scale changes, installations, and replacements a model can help with finding better arrangements and locations. Modeling has other limitations, such as being only a snap-shot in time and heavily reliant on the information being provided. However CFD modeling does provide a scientific approach to cooling and power management in a data center to improve designs and cooling effectiveness.