Phasing is all the rage

And it’s Just in Time.

Last week the Northern California 7×24 Exchange held their Spring event covering the topic of Construction Best Practices. One clear theme that emerged was the need for Flexible, Phased Capacity as new data centers are built out. Several speakers and panelists addressed market trends in outsourcing that drive this need.

Ron Vokoun from JE Dunn Construction, explained several trends in outsourcing and new construction that are driving the need for flexible capacity.

  1. Small businesses are moving IT to co-lo and cloud providers.
  2. Medium businesses are moving IT to co-lo and wholesale providers.
  3. Most new construction is purpose built, Greenfield, and larger in scale, yet with larger shells, initial fit-outs are modest and subsequent fit-outs are delayed until occupancy is closer.

Sam Brown, VP of Engineering and Construction for Server Farm Realty echoed this phasing approach explaining that customers tell them, “We need 500Kw now and over five years we plan to ramp into 2MW.”

fmiPolargy sees this emerging trend of “phasing” reflected in an increasing appetite for our Floor Mounted Infrastructure (FMI) among co-lo and wholesale providers.

Our FMI solution incorporates containment, cable and power trays, and lighting. It is essentially a “modular white space” solution deployed in response to actual demand for capacity. Using a phasing approach, after the shell and raised floor is built out, the remaining infrastructure of containment, power, cable, and lighting can be deployed as needed. This is less constraining to the layout, which may not be fully understood until actual customers come in and their requirements clarify.

Perhaps most importantly for the industry, this “just in time” approach to data center infrastructure goes a long way toward smoothing bumps in the business model many insiders  are anxious about, as I discussed in my previous post about maturation and rationalization. The ability to easily defer and fine-tune capital investment until actual demands are understood will be a competitive advantage for early adopters of phasing.

Because Polargy has deep expertise and experience with precision design and rapid deployment, we anticipate strong demand for our FMI solution that enables easy Phasing, as this new fit-out trend grows into an industry Best Practice.

Selling into Latin America

Latin America is one of the fastest growing data center markets in the world, so the topic “Building Data Centers in Latin America” was perfect for IDG’s 21st Century Data Center Symposium held in Dallas a couple weeks ago.
Based on the conference, I have these recommendations for product latijns-amerikadelivery into the region:
  1. Set expectations based on the specifics the individual country, LatAm is not homogeneous. For example, Chile is strict on paperwork, Guatemala is more relaxed.
  2. Clarify delivery terms. Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) needs to clearly define the shipment hand-off. The difference between the “construction site” and the “staging/off site receiving area” can be weeks—and kilometers—apart.
  3. Value Added Tax (VAT) is complex, get professional help. In some cases it can be recovered, in most cases it needs to be paid in advance.
  4. Business practices vary by country, there’s a large gray area of local expeditors, prepaid contractor fees, etc. Know that going in, do the necessary research.
  5. Duties vary widely with Brazil having the steepest ones. Plan for these in your project costing and make sure duty codes for your products are correct.
brazil-startup4116-620x354Polargy has partnered with Anixter for most of our product deliveries into the LatAm region which allows us to leverage local boots on the ground to handle most of these logistical, tax, and duty issues.
We anticipate continued success in the LatAm region and look forward to sharing more insights as we gain them.

CAPRATE recap: Beauty Day on the Bay

Last week Polargy attended the Third Annual Northern California Data Center Summit hosted by CAPRATE. The event was held in San Francisco at the beautiful St. Francis Yacht Club overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Polargy’s expo table enjoyed this amazing view.IMG_6583

Here are my high level takeaways from the event:

  • The data center industry is entering a maturation/rationalization cycle with many aspects of the industry undergoing rapid change.
  • Data center location near major population centers still matters a lot because of latency & performance requirements and lingering “server hugging” mindsets among senior staff
  • Demand for capacity remains high but prices/revenues are nonetheless under pressure
  • Energy consumption & conservation continue to be big concerns but now we’re beginning to hear more about water consumption & conservation
  • The Northern California market plays by its own rules (as always) with high energy rates, a surplus of demand, heavy regulation and long building schedules
  • Surplus capacity remains rampant with IT commonly operating at 40-50% of capacity
  • Enterprise outsourcing is still very low and represents a huge opportunity

Unlike other large scale industries that have matured and rationalized after 20 years, the data center industry remains fast-paced and dynamic. Not quite chaotic, but lots of moving pieces.

Because of the rapid pace of IT evolution, predicting the future of the industry is becoming both more difficult and more important if you’re an owner or operator. In light of this, the panel discussion I moderated titled Future Proofing Data Centers was certainly timely.

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I very much enjoyed moderating this group of industry experts:

We discussed topics like:

  • What is the expected life of your new data center?
  • What is the technology planning horizon?
  • Colos build a 20 year asset, yet leases run only 3 to 5 years
  • Who is at the table for planning the new data center?
  • What factors impact the use model/capability requirements?
  • How does white space layout need to change over time?
  • How does “modularity” play into getting the most of the 20 year building?

Parting words of wisdom on ‘future proofing’ from my panel:

  • Flexible capacity that allows an operator to respond to market conditions is the key.
  • IT density and power consumption could double in 10 years.
  • Plan to swap out your large assets and build extra floor area to facilitate upgrades.
  • Government regulation is a large unknown that has the potential to change the game.
  • If you’re not designing for environmental constraints like water availability, you should.

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A big thank you to all my panelists for dedicating time to this important topic, and to CAPRATE for organizing this event.

Sealing gaps: We’ve come a long way

Ship bld Caulk 7Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. In ancient times, boat builders would pack fibers, reeds and pitch into cracks between the planks of their boats to seal water leaks. I invented PolarDam five years ago because data center operators needed a low-cost, simple, flexible and safe method for sealing a wide variety of air gaps to improve cooling efficiency.
Over the years, we’ve enjoyed hearing stories about how operators sealed air gaps prior to using PolarDam, and here are a few of the more entertaining examples:
  1. Software. Yes, software. The data center was once home to countless software packages (CDs, manuals, etc.) for enterprise desktop support. Since all those boxes were just sitting around—and about the right size (5″ x 7″)—facilities managers used them to block off cable openings in empty racks.
  2. Foam peanuts. Inventive? Yes. Fire safe? No. We don’t know the whole story of how they were held in place, but they were called out by the fire marshal as not fire safe, so they had to go. The site manager replaced them with fire safe PolarDam air dam foam.
  3. Cardboard. This is no surprise given its ubiquity except for the obvious fire danger. In haste to achieve energy savings, this operator overlooked the potential to actually accelerate a possible fire by packing kindling throughout his data center.
  4. Rags. This is an odd example because there’s no reason to suspect the data center operator already had quantities of rags on hand, so they must have intentionally purchased a large quantity of new clean rags to plug air gaps. Probably not as bad as cardboard or software but certainly not up to code. PolarDam to the rescue again.
  5. Packing foam. Think about that pink packing foam that protects new-in-box computers and servers. Now imagine you’re supposed to wedge pieces of this rigid foam into air gaps of different shapes and sizes. It sounds like a nightmare, maybe even punishment, but definitely awkward and inefficient. Clearly not “the right tool for the job.”
  6. Wood. Scraps of wood. If I didn’t hear this myself, I’m not sure I would believe it. Is there any good use for wood in the data center? How does one fashion a custom wood block “air dam” on site without multiple cuts and resulting saw dust? If I hadn’t invented PolarDam, I think I’d sooner recommend fiber, reeds and pitch.
DSCN3974 (1)No need to seal air gaps with rubbish or other flammable materials, PolarDam seals your large and small air gaps, no tools required, and it’s fire safe.
Send us your entertaining “stop gap” stories from the days before you used PolarDam air dam foam: marketing@polargy.com

Industry Perspective: Who Owns Containment?

Who owns containment? No one. This is the problem.

Written by Cary Frame, President and founder of Polargy, a provider of hot- and cold-aisle containment solutions.

Hot- and cold-aisle containment is a data center best practice experiencing hyper-growth in adoption because of its large impact on energy efficiency and operating cost savings. Interestingly, there is still no clear ownership of containment within the enterprise, among industry trades or between manufacturers.

Polargy works on the leading edge of growth in data center containment by focusing on product innovation and enabling fast and precise implementation. We offer this perspective on containment ownership based on our observations over more than five years in the containment market.

In our experience, what drives ambiguity around containment ownership is that it exists along the boundaries of job scope for multiple traditional players within data center whitespace. It also represents a more customized solution set than much of the industry is accustomed to.

On the user side, containment physically touches data center server racks, which are the responsibility of IT or IT Ops management within the enterprise, but it significantly impacts air conditioning performance, which is typically under the purview of facilities management. In addition, some enterprises have corporate energy managers who want or need to participate in the discussion. On the supply side, no single manufacturer type has claimed the category and no trade (mechanical, electrical, etc.) has taken a lead role. Because no one has stepped into full ownership of containment, up to five separate groups inside and outside the data center currently get involved.

Within the enterprise, Polargy has seen retrofit projects managed by data center operations as often as by facilities. However, we rarely see IT responsible for driving decisions, and though we find energy managers at the table, they almost never drive a project, but rather consult on ROI. When it comes to commissioning containment, all three constituents have strong stakes in the upgraded operating environment.

As part of Polargy’s standard engagement process we request that all three groups participate in outcome targets and commissioning planning. The key question these groups must agree on is what the new cold aisle temperature will be. Typically, IT people seek cold aisle temperatures in the mid-60s, data center operations people tend to favor temperatures in the low-70s, and facilities people prefer to run near the ASHRAE limit of 80.7°F. Besides these three operational groups, trades and manufacturers also suffer containment ownership ambiguity.

As a lead containment contactor, Polargy routinely trains and subcontracts a variety of firms from other trades to install containment. Polargy turnkey solutions have been installed by low voltage, flooring, interior, mechanical, and electrical contractors. Scholes Electrical and Mechanical in New Jersey has both electrical and low voltage groups, and Polargy has done projects with both groups for the same client. No particular contractor type has emerged as the one best suited to initiate and own containment projects.

“At CRB, we’ve seen a growing number of owners procure containment from containment companies like Polargy, but also from rack makers like Chatsworth,” reports Daniel Bodenski, Director of Mission Critical Services at CRB. “Likewise, in our mission critical project work, we’ve seen a variety of subcontractors install containment, including electricians, flooring contractors, and again the containment vendors themselves. No single group appears to be claiming full ownership yet.”

To the contrary, we’ve even seen contractors avoiding containment opportunities. In Chicago, the engineering design house Environmental Systems Design attempted to bid a containment project to four low voltage contractors, but none of them responded because they didn’t know what they were getting into. In Phoenix, a prominent mechanical contractor walked away from containment opportunities because they felt containment wasn’t “in their wheelhouse.”

The case of mechanical contractors is particularly curious because three things should give the mechanical trade an advantage in containment:

  • They’re already responsible for air flow supply in the data center.
  • They’re already doing routine maintenance on CRAC units, so they have regular access to customers they could sell containment to.
  • They already have the mechanical skills necessary to install containment.

Yet, we haven’t even seen mechanical get traction with containment. Lack of clear ownership for containment means mechanical and other trades lose out on significant opportunities due to nothing more than lack of familiarity.

Among manufacturers, containment is dispersed among different types, from pure-play companies solely focused on containment to resellers and divisions within large diversified corporations. Containment is largely custom-designed to unique site conditions and varying rack sizes and layouts. This is why pure-play companies like Polargy with deep knowledge of requirements for both retrofit and new construction currently enjoy an advantage. As rack, low voltage and flooring manufacturers encroach on the containment market they are being forced to overcome the customization barrier.

Lack of clear and consistent ownership for containment among facilities management, trades, and manufacturers is clearly hamstringing containment-related decisions and implementations today. Containment is moving up the adoption curve, but the market will continue to see a variety of players at the table until market norms are established.

While these different constituent groups remain involved in containment to some degree, communication about business outcomes and implementation is paramount. Until there is better clarity vis-a-vis ownership of containment, decision authority will remain dispersed and responsibility will be shared, necessitating communication and coordination among more parties than necessary.

According to Rich Garrison, Senior Principal at Alfa Tech, “Because containment is intended to control airflow by separating hot and cold air, containment solutions are a fundamental part of the Mechanical solution. On the other hand, because it can be considered a wall or partition and often has an aesthetic component, the Architects claim ownership.  To further complicate it, containment solutions are often positioned as accessories to rack solutions and can be considered part of the IT infrastructure. Ownership ambiguity extends to the trades as well. We see General Contractors, Mechanical, Electrical and Low Voltage sub-contractors all doing containment installation.”

In the current environment, while ownership remains ambiguous, Polargy sees MEP consulting engineers as the ideal containment owner from a design perspective due to their responsibility for air flow controls and monitoring. On the implementation side, pure-play containment manufacturers like Polargy, who double as containment contractors, will remain best suited to manage installation. Their advantage comes from superior product knowledge and deep and varied experience as the “go-to guy”during the formative period of the containment industry.

We anticipate this will remain the situation in this market for the next 2-4 years while data center containment ownership gets sorted out. Clear ownership of containment will facilitate even faster adoption of cutting edge containment solutions and lead to even greater data center efficiency.

Originally published on Data Center Knowledge.

Industry Perspective: Commissioning Containment Retrofits

Safely Transitioning the Data Center to a new Operating Environment

The Misunderstood Risk
Adding hot or cold aisle containment to an existing site offers the promise of energy savings, rescued capacity, and elimination of hot spots. Containment almost always offers strong return on investment with seemingly little downside risk. The problem is that “little downside” can be significantly misunderstood due to a common view of aisle containment as “put up some walls and turn off some CRACs.”

For Electronics Protection piece

This misguided view of containment leads operators to plow ahead with airflow isolation projects, yet with no clear transition path to the new operating environment. These narrowly-defined containment projects result in money left on the table and huge risks associated with crippled post-install airflow.

To mitigate these risks and assure a successful outcome, aisle containment retrofits should be viewed more broadly as a Monitor, Contain, and Control project driven by a proper Commissioning Plan. This broader view of containment is based on three important factors:

  • Data center airflow is dynamic, not static.
  • Airflow must be managed continuously, not just once or even sporadically.
  • Post-install, the cooling plant operates closer to its limits, which demands better monitoring.

Considering these factors, it’s easy to see that a containment project involves more than just putting up walls and turning off CRACs. It requires discussion and planning around monitoring, balancing airflow, controlling cooling and setting parameters and thresholds to which the site will be managed. All of these specifications and parameters are captured in a proper Containment Commissioning Plan.

Retrofit Trends
Increasing computing densities, increasing power costs, and demand for ever more capacity from existing infrastructure are key drivers of containment adoption. While these drivers apply to both new construction and containment retrofits, our focus here is on the latter.

The typical scenario in containment retrofits is cold aisle airflow management with roof panels and a raised floor site with perimeter cooling. Generally, and depending on the fire marshal, drop-away roof panels are more popular because they can be used under sprinklers with no special accommodations. This option is not available for vertical panels more often associated with hot aisle containment. Also in legacy sites, there are often overhead obstructions that make vertical panels untenable, which leaves the roof as the only practical option.

With this roof-based trend in retrofits, cold aisle containment essentially creates little rooms within the data center, each of which requires a balance of supply and demand airflow. These separate balanced airflows make the project more challenging than merely installing doors and panels. Furthermore, the constantly changing airflow supply and demand, combined with operating the cooling plant closer to minimum required capacity, forces a careful approach to the airflow equation. These factors make a suitable Containment Commissioning Plan critical to risk management and overall project success.

Herding Cats
A proper Retrofit Containment Commissioning Plan aligns stakeholders to cooling changes and project goals, and outlines various monitoring, balancing, and set-point adjustments steps. More simply, a proper Containment Commissioning Plan answers two key operating questions:

  • What is our new cold aisle operating temperature?
  • How will we know when we get there?

Persuading the Facilities, Operations and IT groups within the enterprise to agree on the new cold aisle temperature is typically the hardest part. Facilities advocates for ASHRAE’s upper limit recommendation of 80.6°F (27°C), Operations is more comfortable with cold aisle temperatures around the mid- to upper-70s and IT prefers even cooler targets, often in the low 70s.

The second question is simply answered by “monitoring,” though more often than not, legacy sites have little or no temperature monitoring at the rack level. Once stakeholders agree on an answer to the first question it becomes obvious there is a monitoring gap, so planning typically turns to closing that gap. At this point in the process, people working through this planning phase often experience an “ah-ha” moment, realizing that the project scope is broader than their narrow, initial view.

What’s in the Plan?
After answering the two key questions (above), the rest of the Commissioning Plan is fairly straightforward. Again, we assume the project is cold aisle containment with a roof. The Plan outline that follows may be modified for other containment topologies.

  • Determine maximum cold aisle temperature threshold
  • Establish a monitoring plan
  • Conduct an initial airflow balancing
  • Determine and set a schedule for turning off CRAC/CRAHs
  • Determine and set a schedule for raising set points
  • Rebalance and continue adjustments until limits are reached

Temperature threshold and monitoring
Temperature threshold is a standard that drives all subsequent commissioning activities, including monitoring, which assures thermal safety through the project. To highlight the importance of monitoring, understand that at the start of a project a site often does have cold aisles out of balance, with one feeding another. Without containment, this common overfed/starving situation goes unnoticed, but after installing containment, underfed aisles immediately starve.

Since most legacy sites lack rack-level monitoring, a decision must be taken to invest in a monitoring/DCIM system, such as an automated, wireless mesh network. Short of that, monitoring may be relegated to a form of a manual ‘Sneaker Net’ process with temperature strips and/or laser temperature guns. A manual approach can work and many projects use it. Now at this point, an operator could also consider under-floor or differential air pressure, but we find that most retrofit projects lack the appetite for this step.

Initial Balancing
The objective of initial balancing is to eliminate gross imbalances prior to the adjustment phase. The current cooling lineup is maintained as floor tiles are juggled to achieve a common inlet temperature. That initial temperature target is loosely set by sampling the room to determine the current average inlet temperature at the front of the rack. A stock of some solid 25% and 60% perforated floor tiles will be needed for this and subsequent phases. It is common for a site to have too many perforated tiles installed.

CRAC/CRAHs and Set Points
The target number of CRACs to be turned off is usually set during the analysis phase. The Plan should identify specific CRACs, as well as a sequence and schedule for turning them off. The schedule simply spaces out shutdowns so that the room has enough time to stabilize, which could require as little as a few hours to as much as a couple days. Importantly, monitoring and rebalancing occurs during the time between shutting down CRAC units.
New set point targets are a function of the CRAC controls. Most legacy sites are controlling by Return Air Temperature (RAT), and a typical scenario is RAT set to 75°F. Clearly, if the new cold aisle temperature target is 78°F then RAT must be elevated well into the 90’s. New high temperature alarm set points must be set as well. The process of raising the RAT mirrors the process of turning off CRAC units. A proper Containment Commissioning Plan includes a schedule for gradually raising set points, allowing adequate time for the environment to stabilize. The Commissioning Plan should include multiple cycles of adjustment, monitoring and rebalancing.

Adjustment Process/Dynamic Airflow
As new containment is installed, monitoring assures that aisle starvation does not result. After containment is installed, the shutting down of CRACs, the set point increases and the rebalancing steps are taken. The Commissioning Plan is followed until the new target cold aisle temperature threshold is reached and is stable. A likely outcome is that the threshold will be reached for some zones while other areas will remain cooler than the target. At this point, the containment commissioning project is complete, though monitoring should be sustained, on the expectation that airflow supply-demand balance will change over time, necessitating additional adjustments.

The Containment Commissioning Plan outlined here does not address automation of monitoring and control functions, which we have left as a manual process. Short of deploying a full-fledged automated monitor and control system, active fan tiles are an option for achieving partial automation without the cost and complexity of procuring and integrating a full-fledged system. Fan tiles can help with localized balancing, which is especially important in the cold aisle containment scenario typical of retrofits. Fan tiles perform a local monitor and control function by adjusting fan speed to increase or decrease airflow into the aisle as temperature rises or falls. The fan tile option should be considered during initial discussion and planning of monitoring.

Conclusion
A proper Commissioning Plan for new aisle containment assures a seamless transition to the new operating environment and a successful outcome from both the financial and operational risk management perspectives. Approaching a new aisle containment project with a holistic view that includes monitoring and controls will help align stakeholders and facilitate a Plan that adequately addresses thermal safety. Lastly, any new implementation of airflow containment creates a new cooling environment that requires ongoing monitoring and continuous adjustment. The implementation of a well-thought out Plan will rise to the challenges of refining such a changing environment.

Originally published on Thermal News.

Polargy’s new website: Designed for Designers

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 2.17.45 PMIt’s been a while coming, but the Polargy website has finally been updated! Now it’s even faster and easier to evaluate and spec Polargy containment solutions.

Here’s the Top-5 things our new website makes easier:

  1. Answering the key question, “What is containment and why do I need it?”
  2. Designing new construction and retrofit containment projects with Polargy solutions
  3. Learning about some of the future trends in containment architectures
  4. Browsing videos, case studies, and technical info about Polargy’s innovative products
  5. Seeing how Polargy’s ecosystem of airflow manangement products is relevant to you

“We’re thrilled to launch a site designed for the professionals we work with so closely.” —Cary Frame

The new website features ready access to educational materials about containment, including design files for industry-leading PolarPlex™ containment. CAD, BIM and SKP (SketchUp) design files for PolarPlex are freely downloadable, making it easier for designers (ex: architects and engineers) to speed up new construction and retrofit project design.

Polargy provides premium airflow management accessories and expert professional services with their world-class solutions for each of the six fundamental containment topologies.

The new site also improves access to brochures and videos developed to help educate the trade on containment best-practices as containment adoption continues to soar.

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The secret’s out about PolarDam

This month we followed our customers’ lead and ‘let the cat out of the bag‘ about all the ways to use PolarDam Air Dam Foam to seal off air gaps throughout the data center.

polardam_air_dam_foam_promoYou probably remember the old story about 3M’s accidental invention of Post-It Notes.

bitcoin-aha-momentThe invention of PolarDam Air Dam Foam was a little like that:

  • Accidental product insight
  • Simple solution to a real problem
  • Subsequent use case proliferation

If you spend as much time with customers as Polargy does, you become very familiar with the details and nuance of their challenges. This means we’re often positioned to solve—and even anticipate—customer problems with innovative containment solutions.

Almost more importantly (for business), staying close to a large number of varied customers allows Polargy to recognize common pain points across the market.

polardam_air_dam_foamIn the PolarDam case, our customer needed to close about a hundred air gaps of varying sizes, and it was clear that brush grommets weren’t going to get the job done. The high cost of brush grommets alone made them a bad option but they also just didn’t work.

IMG_6064Together with the customer, we developed a simple, customizable air gap sealing solution that beats brush grommets every time in terms of fit, cost and flexibility. It was clear to us immediately that the same air gap challenges this customer had were common to data centers everywhere.

So that’s where it started, but now it’s taken on a life of its own. I even made a video about it.

“Everyone knows that air leakage reduces data center cooling efficiency. The best kept secret for sealing air gaps is PolarDam Air Dam Foam.”

And here’s a little gallery of some of the most popular PolarDam applications:

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Normal cable cutouts where you could use a brush grommets (but prefer PolarDam’s far lower cost)

 

PolarDam 2

Odd-shaped or obstructed cutouts that no brush grommet will fit

 

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2-post racks, either on top or through the floor

 

 

photo 1Blanking inside racks when you’re blanking off an entire 1U or 2U (or more) but especially when you’re running cables out through the front of the rack. Try to do that with a rigid blanking panel.

 

PolarDam 3Pipe penetrations through a floor or near a wall…

…and there are so many more.

The important thing to remember is that PolarDam closes all these air gaps in seconds. No tools, no measuring, no messy drilling. Just tear it to the perfect size and push it into place with your hands.

Just one part number: PD24

Saving Energy “Down Under” with Rack Tech

Last week we announced a new partnership with Australia-based rack manufacturer Rack Technologies. Rack Tech will distribute, sell and service Polargy’s data center containment solutions in the Australia/New Zealand region. This partnership is an important step for Polargy as we expand our global reach.

IMG_1920Rack Tech manufacturers 19” and 26” specialty rack systems and accessories for the communications, electronic and security industries. Founded in 1990 and acquired by Preformed Line Products (PLP) in 2000, Rack Tech has now grown into one of the region’s largest manufacturers of enclosures and accessories.

We’re thrilled to partner with Rack Technoligies. Fred Garnier (Polargy’s VP of Channel Sales) said in the press release:

“Rack Technologies is an ideal partner for Polargy in Australia. Their local design, manufacturing and installation expertise is the perfect extension of Polargy’s US manufacturing, sales and service operations. Their strong customer support orientation will help ensure optimal outcomes for customers of all types and sizes.”

Together, we are well positioned to reduce operating costs for large and small data centers across Australia, reflecting growing environmental awareness and responsibility in the data center industry.

Design 2SBAirflow management and containment solutions have rapidly become an operating best practice in both new construction and legacy data centers worldwide, and under this agreement, we can continue promoting best-practices in hot- and cold-aisle containment domestically and internationally.

Space is Limited in Manhattan

I visited a banking customer in Manhattan last month and finally had the opportunity to revisit an installation Polargy had completed several years back. The bank had discovered too many hot spots in their data center and looked to Polargy for a solution. Their problems were caused by the room’s space limitations of a short ceiling and a cable cluttered  12” raised floor. As densities grew, so did their hot spots.

Al Helmke of JEM Tech in the Bank

Al Helmke of JEM Tech in the Bank

After assessing the available space and airflow patterns, Polargy installed PolarPlex TM Drop-Away Panels for cold aisle containment and a strip curtain door to close off the end of the aisle. The project was a success in that it solved the bank’s hot spot problems: intake air temperature dropped from 90°F to 70°F.

Al Hemlke, of JEM Tech, is pictured above in the cold aisle of the data center. Al is a well-known, respected industry veteran who is deeply familiar with the NY/NJ market and leads our relationship with this customer. The PolarPlex Drop-Away Panels are situated just above him and the strip curtain door can be seen at the far end of the aisle behind him. Generally, we avoid strip curtains because the curtains can sometimes dance due to airflow characteristics at the end of aisles. However in this case, the airflow was not strong enough to create a problem.

Because of space limitations in Manhattan, many data centers have relocated outside the city proper, to surrounding communities in New Jersey, other New York neighborhoods, or into Connecticut. Confined spaces can lead to the types of density problems our banking customer experienced. However, as they discovered and I was able to see in action, sometimes all it takes to solve the problem is a reevaluation of containment and airflow solutions. High density issues can still be addressed even while working in a limited amount of space.