Do you have the coolest data centre?

Companies must insist on fixed and transparent terms and conditions in the service level agreements (SLAs), advises Jacques Klopper of Rittal South Africa.

Johannesburg, 05 Dec 2017
Read time 4min 00sec
Jacques Klopper, General Manager: Sales, Rittal South Africa.
Jacques Klopper, General Manager: Sales, Rittal South Africa.

Over the past decade, the cost of building data centres has increased dramatically. This is partly owing to the growing complexity of the data centre itself, as well as increased demand for power and cooling by the modern data centre. Companies expect their data centres to be available 24/7/365. Unplanned outages cost time and money, resulting in lost productivity.

Jacques Klopper, General Manager: Sales at Rittal South Africa, explains the role of service level agreements (SLAs) in ensuring maximum availability and uptime. "IT executives cite service level agreements as the third-most important criterion in selecting a service provider for data centre outsourcing and the service and maintenance thereof. For those managing outsourced relationships, the SLA is not meant to compensate for lost productivity or lost revenues. What it is intended to do, is enable you to calculate your service budget for the years ahead so that you can plan for the costs that will be incurred."

Klopper advises companies to adapt the scope of services covered by their SLA to their specific requirements and to combine various modules, where they can. He also says companies must insist on fixed and transparent terms and conditions with the SLA provider. "The SLAs assist you in determining the scope of your service package, deciding whether you require on-site service, the required speed of response, warranty extensions and the stocking of specific spare parts. By implementing a customisable service contract, your company will ensure a high level of fail-safe performance while also being able to plan costs."

Assess your assets

Klopper advises businesses to carry out an initial profitability analysis to help assess their return on investment.

Such an analysis would include a service check of the enclosure's climate control equipment by a technician who would record equipment data, assess the current status of equipment, visually inspect cooling units and the general condition of equipment. The resulting detailed report would include an overview of the equipment, as well as recommendations for increasing efficiency and machine availability.

Preventive maintenance

SLAs also cover predictive maintenance, enabled by the ability to connect the data centre's various components to the cloud. Klopper says, "Today's data centre components such as cooling units and chillers, can communicate with higher-level systems using the OPC-UA protocol. This, in turn, means they can also be integrated into cloud-based applications and be accessible for services such as smart maintenance, which can increase machine availability. Not only that, but they are also easy to integrate into the customer's smart factory and in-house maintenance regime."

Regular preventive maintenance of enclosure climate control systems helps extend product service life and thus increases the cost-efficiency of products. A detailed maintenance service plan should include the following - giving the customer the full scope of energy consumption and costs:

* Assessing the general condition
* Basic cleaning of the unit (inside and outside), particularly the condenser
* Measuring voltage and power consumption at the compressor
* Measuring hot gas and evaporation temperatures
* Checking fans
* Checking air routing
* Checking and adjusting control systems
* Recording maintenance work, including log book entries pursuant to EU Regulation No 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases
* Leak testing pursuant to EU Regulation No 517/2014

Energy efficiency

When it comes to IT systems and data centres, climate control consumes a significant share of the overall power consumption. Simply replacing old climate control equipment quickly reaps economic rewards. Klopper says, "There's often room to improve the energy consumption of enclosure climate control systems. Efficiency and service checks can help you evaluate the cost-effectiveness of your options. By creating a personal efficiency analysis, payback periods and potential savings can be clearly defined and recommendations for improving efficiency can be made."

"The business will benefit from recommendations for boosting energy efficiency in its production plant, identification of measures designed to reduce unscheduled production downtime and associated costs and specific solutions designed to reduce energy consumption for energy audits to DIN EN 16247-1," he says.

The important thing to remember, is that any SLA that a business enters into must match the needs of the business in terms of uptime. Expectations, boundaries and deliverables must be clearly laid out and agreed to by both the client and the service provider.

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