Published June 17, 2008
Volume 16, Number 6

DPAir Provides Mission-Critical Data Center Services

Two DPAir technicians prepare a rooftop air conditioning condenser for replacement.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

There is little margin for error in the operation of data centers and computer rooms, especially from a mechanical perspective. The appropriate environmental conditions are imperative for system performance, which makes the work of the technicians at DPAir Corp. just about mission-critical.

The density of servers in today’s data center has definitely increased cooling requirements, reports Mark Taylor, regional manager for DPAir’s California offices, which include branches in Hacienda, Sacramento, and Southern California. “We’re dealing with an electrical load that averages over 20 kilowats per square foot, compared to less than 10 kilowats per square foot a few years ago,” Taylor points out “There is more and more equipment in the data center, so now it takes more energy to cool the same amount of space.”

If system cooling does go down unexpectedly, there is only a narrow window, anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, before the data center starts to experience server failure. "DPAir customers know that we have a live support person available by phone 24/7, and that we offer two-hour on-site response for all emergency calls," he continues. "If the air-conditioning malfunctions, they call our 24/7 answering service and seek alternative ways to force warm air out of the room until we arrive on site—for example, opening doors and using box fans to circulate air. It's critical to keep the servers running while help is on the way. A short time later we're there with a qualified, trained technician to diagnose the problem and get the system up and running as soon as possible."

It’s also important to keep the temperature and humidity at a constant level throughout the data center. With about half of its Bay Area business service-related, on any given day DPAir technicians will be at  half a dozen customer locations checking up on the air-conditioning equipment.  “IT managers know that if the temperature gets too hot there can be server damage,” Taylor notes. At a cost of  between $10,000 to $50,000 per server, prevention is a much more reasonable option.

Energy consumption is a timely issue throughout the business world. Given its role as a premier provider of data center design, installation, and maintenance services throughout the western U.S., Phoenix-based DPAir recently introduced a “Go Green” Environmental Data Center program. Pledging “to design the highest-level of energy efficiency available in data centers today and into the future,” the company has also released several “Go Green” tips to reduce energy demands and lower energy costs in the data center.

The recommendations span a host of building conditions, from using the maximum insulation to vapor-sealing all exterior walls, ceilings, and floors, and pre-conditioning supply air before it enters the room. High-efficiency lighting helps to cut energy and maintenance costs. Attention should be paid to balancing air flows, especially in areas where the heat load is concentrated, and of course all air-conditioning equipment should operate at 100 percent efficiency. 

DPAir’s Hacienda office is located at 5673 W. Las Positas Blvd. For more information, visit the company’s web site at www.dpair.com or call (925) 463-3234.


Also in this issue ...