It is no surprise that server virtualization has been called one of the most important IT developments of the past decade given the many benefits it delivers. Server virtualization allows IT organizations to fully utilize server processing capacity, lower capital equipment costs and increase the flexibility of the IT infrastructure. Furthermore, server virtualization helps enterprises reduce their energy consumption and IT footprint while increasing overall data center efficiency.
To fully maximize server virtualization benefits, aggressive server consolidation is encouraged whereby the number of servers needed for the required compute power is reduced. Ideally, server virtualization allows for fewer server enclosures that are more heavily populated than in a typical configuration.
As server virtualization concentrates higher than normal compute power in an enclosure footprint, higher levels of heat are generated. Consequently, IT teams must determine if their current data center cooling infrastructure can handle the increased heat load due to server densification.
Today’s typical air-cooled data centers are capable of cooling approximately 6 kW per enclosure. For a typical enclosure with virtualized servers, upwards of 15kW or more of cooling is required. Thus, air cooling does not allow for densely packed servers within enclosures.
For some organizations, server virtualization becomes a catalyst for IT organizations to carefully re-examine their cooling infrastructure in terms of capacity and efficiency.
Some IT organizations have gotten around this 15kW or greater heat load issue by “load spreading,” where virtualized servers are spread among multiple enclosures scattered throughout the data center. While this approach may solve a short term cooling issue, it is not a good long term approach. Load spreading does not make efficient use of data center space nor does it offer any energy efficiency gains.
Liquid Cooling: A Cost Effective, Highly Efficient Alternative to Traditional Air Cooling
A better alternative to traditional data center air cooling is liquid cooling. By implementing liquid cooling in a virtualized environment, enterprises can achieve a 20+ percent energy savings reduction and can eliminate load spreading entirely, thereby, reducing expensive space requirements.
One of the most efficient liquid cooling solutions is a rear door heat exchanger (RDHx). For an optimal heat containment strategy, an RDHx can be close coupled to an industry standard enclosure. The RDHx has a passive coil within its frame through which cool liquid is pumped. As the hot exhaust air from rack-mounted IT equipment passes over the coil, the heat is captured and taken outside instead of being emitted into the data center. In most cases, the heat is neutralized and the exhaust air coming out of the RDHx is close in temperature to the input air.
Compared with typical computer room air conditioners or computer room air handlers (CRAC/CRAH), an RDHx can reduce total energy consumption by 90 percent, decrease white space by 80 percent and increase the predictability of the overall cooling infrastructure. Moreover, an RDHx can lower data center cooling cost of ownership by as much as 50 percent when compared with CRAC/CRAH.
In virtualized environments, liquid cooling eliminates the need for hot and cold aisle containment. Liquid cooling solutions are also scalable providing IT organizations with the flexibility to add more RDHxs as additional virtualization projects are completed over time.
As enterprises strive to gain greater data center efficiency and sustainability through server virtualization, liquid cooling is a “must have.” Liquid cooling helps maximize the return on investment for any server virtualization project.
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Edited by Erin Monda