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UK data centres fail ASHRAE compliance

UK: Nearly eight out of 10 UK data centres are not complying with recent ASHRAE guidelines, according to research by a firm of thermal risk specialists.

Nottingham-based EkkoSense claims to have recently analysed some 128 UK data centre halls and over 16,500 IT equipment racks to reveal that 78% of UK data centres currently aren’t compliant with current practice ASHRAE thermal guidelines.

ASHRAE’s latest Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments – 4th Edition offers clear recommendations for effective data centre temperature testing. According to EkkoSense, it suggests that simply positioning temperature sensors on data centre columns and walls is no longer enough, and that data centre operators should – as a minimum – be collecting temperature data from at least one point every 3m to 9m of rack aisle. ASHRAE also suggests that unless components have their own dedicated thermal sensors, there’s realistically no way to stay within target thermal limits.

“ASHRAE’s recommendations speak directly to the risks that data centre operators face from non-compliance, and almost all operators use this as their stated standard,” explained James Kirkwood, EkkoSense’s head of critical services.

“Our own research reveals that 11% of IT racks in the 128 data centre halls we surveyed were actually outside of ASHRAE’s recommended range of an 18-27ºC recommended rack inlet temperature – even though this range was the agreed performance window that clients were working towards. We also found that 78% of data centres had at least one server rack that lay outside that range – effectively taking their data centre outside of thermal compliance.”

EkkoSense maintains that only monitoring general room/aisle temperatures doesn’t identify hot and cold spots. “Without a more precise thermal monitoring strategy and the technologies to support it, organisations will always remain at risk – and ASHRAE non-compliant – from individual racks that lie outside the recommended range,” said James Kirkwood.

This latest EkkoSense research follows on from recent findings that suggested the current average cooling utilisation level for UK data centres is just 34%. “Our research shows that less than 5% of data centres are actively monitoring and reporting individual rack temperatures and their compliance. The result is that they therefore have no way of knowing if they are actually truly compliant – and that’s a major concern when it comes to data centre risk management.”

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