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Hot and Cold Aisle Containment in Data Centers

Feature Hot and Cold Aisle Containment in Data Centers - AnD Cable Management Blog

Data centers are often made up of hot and cold aisles, and the design of the hot / cold aisle data center is far from new. However, the traditional setup causes warm air exhaust from one aisle to flow into the air intake of the next, meaning that the overall efficiency of the data center is impacted. And really, that’s what hot and cool aisle containment is all about.

Hot and Cold Aisle Containment in Data Centers - AnD Cable Management Blog
Balancing hot and cold aisles is more important than ever to running an efficient data center

As rack density increases, especially in edge data centers and hyperscale data centers, the need for efficiency increases. This is also impacted by the fact that there are more green data centers, who may be generating their own energy using solar or other renewable resources. 

How does containment work and how does it impact your data center?

Remote Monitoring and Temperature Control

Of course, before we get to containment itself, it’s a good reminder to revisit physical layer monitoring. To know how effective any containment effort is, it’s necessary to monitor temperatures. This is most often done with temperature indicating panels, three per rack at the top, middle, and bottom, so that intake temperatures can be monitored regularly.

Of course, someone entering the area to manually check temperatures is yet another disruption to airflow, so remote monitoring as a part of physical network security is essential. This allows managers not only to monitor these temperatures, but receive alerts and take action if something goes wrong. 

A150 Remote Physical Layer Network Security Monitoring Elements
The A150 Remote Physical Layer Remote Monitoring system tracks temperature among many other elements that reduce risk and increase efficiency in data centers

But the most important fact for this discussion is to know what temperatures are so that efficiency and the effectiveness of containment can be monitored.

What is Aisle Containment?

Aisle containment is essentially isolating aisles by relative temperature. Essentially it means placing doors at the end of each aisle, and then adding panels, or barriers, from the top of the cabinet upwards. 

The more airtight this containment is, the more efficient cooling can be, and the easier it is to manage airflow. It’s pretty simple, but there are a couple of different approaches, each with its own pros and cons.

Hot vs. Cold Aisle Containment

There are two ways to manage aisle containment: hot and cold aisle containment. And they work exactly the way they sound.

  • Hot Aisle Containment: Hot aisles are contained, leaving the rest of the room at a more comfortable cool aisle temperature. It’s also easier to manage in many cases.
  • Cold Aisle Containment: Cold aisles are isolated or contained, which means the rest of the room stays at the warmer hot aisle temperature. This can also make getting the right amount of airflow tricky due to pressure changes, but managed properly it can deliver the most uniform temperature air to servers.. 

Choosing the right type of aisle containment for your data center depends on your situation, but there are some differences between new data center construction and retrofitting an existing data center.

Retrofitting vs. New Data Center Construction

In the case of a new data center, most of the time hot aisle containment is the method of choice. This is easier to set up in a new data center, as that allows you to start with the type of containment you need, and to set up HVAC systems and sensors to accommodate that. 

This creates an easier environment for technicians to work in when necessary, and is overall a more efficient choice. However, things are different when it comes to existing data centers

Existing data centers are easier to retrofit with cool aisle containment. While there is some additional monitoring, the way cooling systems work simply means this process is simpler in a currently operating system without creating expensive downtime for making moves and changes and installing containment. 

That doesn’t mean that no new data center will be built with cool aisle containment. It simply means that hot aisle containment is a more frequent choice. 

Partial Containment Solutions

When it comes to retrofitting, sometimes full aisle containment in either format is not possible. In those cases, partial containment is a solution. How is this achieved?

Often plastic strips can be used, similar to those you would go through walking into an industrial freezer or even certain restaurant kitchens. These can be hung at the end of aisles and from the tops of servers to the ceiling, just like other containment methods.

While not as effective, partial containment can be easy to retrofit and implement, and in some cases is about 75% as effective as full containment. For existing data centers looking for a quick and inexpensive efficiency solution, partial containment is a viable option. 

But containment is just a part of rack cooling solutions, and there are some new and exciting ones. 


WHITEPAPER – Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs FREE Guide - AnD Cable Products

Smart optimization can help you increase rack space and realize significant equipment cost savings. Read our step-by-step guide that shows you how – and how much you could save.

  • How Much Rack Space You Could Save
  • How to Optimize for Maximum Efficiency
  • Savings for New and Retrofit Installations
  • Overall Cost and Space Savings Post-Optimization

The Addition of Liquid Cooling

Data center cooling has evolved from older, inefficient systems to more contemporary ones in a relatively short period of time. However, one thing that has been around for a while but is experiencing a boom in denser, modern data centers is liquid cooling. 

Why? Well, in most cases liquid cooling is more efficient than air cooling in data centers, and when the two are used in conjunction, generally the best results can be achieved. The larger data centers get, the more power they consume, the greater the push towards a blended approach to cooling that not only saves power and is better for the environment, but prolongs the life of equipment and saves space as well. 

But even with the addition of liquid cooling, it’s all about efficient use of rack space and the airflow around them. 

It’s All About Airflow

No matter what kind of aisle containment is used, and no matter how efficient the cooling system, saving space, improving efficiency, and keeping things organized, maximizing rack space efficiency and airflow is vital.

That’s why data centers choose ZeroU racks and cable management systems. They not only help avoid the spaghetti mess and all the cable issues that can arise from it, but also help maximize airflow and save significant rack space in any system.

Whether you are retrofitting a data center or engaged in new construction, we have the rack system that’s right for you. 

Contact AnD Cable Products today for all of your cable, rack, and physical network security needs. We’d love to start a conversation about the right solution for you. 

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/

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Server Rack Configuration and Cable Management Best Practices

Feature - Server Rack Configuration and Cable Management Best Practices - AnD Cable Management Blog

There are only three types of currency in the world: time, money, and expertise – and we can’t afford to waste any of them. You have the expertise needed to run a data center and you hire others with the same expertise. But there are two things you can always save in your data center: time and money.

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Data center server rack configuration with proper cable management using best practices

It seems like we never have enough of either one, and time and money are often directly tied together. So how do you make the most of both every single day?

Perhaps the most important thing is to optimize wherever possible. Here are some ideas for you, things that will save you both time and money in your data center.

Use Your Rack Space Wisely

The more efficiently you use your rack space, the more you can fit in your data center. In a time when many data centers are experiencing a need for rapid growth, the ideal use of space is key. So what can you do?

  • Use the right sized racks for your equipment – Many components are moving to 23” cable management racks rather than 19” ones. Be sure you have the right server rack, so you are not wasting space and risking equipment damage.
  • Use smaller gauge cables where possible – This allows for more airflow and improved equipment efficiency while also taking up less valuable space.
  • Use Zero U cable rack organizers – These will not only save you useful shelf space, but they are also easier to install, and can make repairs and changes faster too by giving technicians and installers more space to work on.

All of these things will make sure you are using your rack space in the very best way.

Avoid a Disorganized Server Rack

While racks rarely start out that way, additions, changes, and moves can result in a real mess at the rear of your server rack. Every technician has seen this from time to time, and it is not only a waste of time to sort through, but it can cost a data center in many ways.

Cables that are hanging unsupported like a curtain and not routed properly will often break at critical points, losing continuity. Connectors also suffer more wear and tear, and airflow is adversely affected, which is harder on equipment.

If you have a disorganized server rack get it cleaned up and optimize that rack as soon as you can. Use Velcro cable wraps and ties to bundle cables, and take the next time saving step, which involves labeling and organization.

Develop a Label Protocol and Label Everything

The ANSI TIA 606-B is a voluntary cable labelling standard, but one that helps data centers be as organized as possible. It involves setting up a consistent and standardized system for labelling cables and equipment. It involves using:

  • Permanent labels
  • Labels at both ends of the cables
  • Legible labels
  • Good record keeping of labeling protocols and physical locations
  • Color coding
  • A common nomenclature everyone understands

Once you have established a labeling protocol, ensure that everything is labeled. You never want to have to say, or hear someone on your team say, “I wish I had labeled that” again. Make labeling a standard procedure.

At AnD Cable Products, we offer everything from reusable cable labels to a variety of different sized Velcro cable wraps and zip ties for your cable management needs. Need something you don’t see on our website? Feel free to reach out and Request a Quote.

Optimize Your Data Center for Airflow

Whether you run cables under the floor or overhead, you need to have a plan to maximize airflow in your data center. This is easier on your HVAC system and better for your equipment overall. Any large variations in air temperature, pressure, or humidity will all impact your data center in one way or another.

This means using the right size and length cables, rack cable management in the room, and having an overall airflow plan in place. This includes all of the steps above, but adding the extra layer of understanding how each action you take will affect airflow.

Remote Monitoring and Automation

Finally, remote monitoring and automation mean fewer technicians in and out of the facility, which is easier on the HVAC systems and airflow efficiency, reducing costs. It also means you can spot problems before they start. You’ll know what is going on with cables before damage is visible to the human eye.

Not only will there be warnings and alarms related to problems, a remote monitoring system can reduce energy usage in your data center as well. This physical layer network security is often overlooked and not given the attention it should, but the right solution can save you both time and money.

There are only three kinds of currency. Time, money, and expertise. If you are going to use all of them to the best of your ability, you’ll need to save time and money in your data center. Need help or have questions about how to optimize your data center? We have answers and everything you need to get started today.


Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimizing Rack Space and Air Flow in Server Racks and Cabinets

Smart optimization can help you increase rack space and realize significant equipment cost savings. Read our step-by-step guide that shows you how – and how much you could save.

  • How Much Rack Space You Could Save
  • How to Optimize for Maximum Efficiency
  • Savings for New and Retrofit Installations
  • Overall Cost and Space Savings Post-Optimization

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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Rapid Data Center Growth: Keys to Rack Management Success

Rapid Data Center Growth: Keys to Rack Management Success - AnD Cable Management Blog

The COVID pandemic hit, and workers headed home for good, but not just to binge old episodes of Fringe and eat ice cream on the sofa. They headed there to work, which meant that suddenly data centers were overloaded. Operating at near maximum capacity, HVAC systems strained to keep up, and data center managers lost fistfuls of hair seeking solutions to keeping up with the exponential pace of data center growth.

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Rapid Data Center Growth: Keys to Rack Management Success - AnD Cable Management Blog
Data center growth has been rapid in response to COVID-19, with remote workers needing to be online, all the time

But they recovered rapidly, developing plans for expansion and revamping of their current space, and socially distanced technicians went to work on keeping up with growth as best they could.

Now, even as recovery looms, many companies have discovered the huge advantage of remote work, and more workers will be staying in their home offices wearing athletic-leisure wear (at least from the waist down) than at any time in history.

That means the boom of data center growth is not yet over. So what are the keys to rack management success and making the most of your data center space? Here are some thoughts for you.

Assess Your Rack Management

The first step is to look at your current space. Do you have a spaghetti mess of wiring at the rear of each rack, and is your hardware suffering from previous rushed expansion and repair attempts? There is hope.

There is a very common two rack configuration in data centers. The first rack is a network rack and the second is used for horizontal cross connects. There is nothing wrong with this staple setup except that with some small and rapid changes, you can free up a great deal of space in each rack. Here’s how. 

Change Your Cable Managers

First, the cross connect rack on average contains 10 2RU cable managers managing the cables from 9 2RU patch panels with 48 ports each. A simple way to free up 20 RU of space is to replace the 2RU cable managers with Zero U Cable Management Racks.

It’s actually a simple change, and you have literally transformed your cabinet space in a matter of moments. But that isn’t all. In your two cabinet system, you typically have two 2RU cable managers, which if replaced using the above mentioned ZeroU Cable Management Racks frees up an additional 4RU of space.

Zero U Horizontal Cable Management Rack - AnD Cable Products
Our Zero U Cable Management Rack helps you keep track of your cables and manage troubleshooting – while saving you heaps of rack space

Between the two cabinets you have now freed up 24 RU of rack space. Is your configuration different? Simply think of it this way – every 2 RU cable manager you replace with a ZeroU unit frees up 2 RU of space.

For every 1 RU cable manager you replace, you gain 1 RU of space. Check out some of our best sellers below:

What else can you do to improve the utilization of your racks?

Use the Right Cables

We mentioned that 2 RU patch panels are common in the cross connect rack. In fact, there are nine of them in our example. But there is a simple change you can make to reduce the rack space you use.

Switch to 28 AWG patch cables. Because they are 36% skinnier than their counterparts, you can have the same 48 port patch panel, but substitute a compact 1RU unit instead. That cuts the amount of space you are using in half. This means your two rack system can now hold twice as many ports in the same space. Select your prefered option below – and don’t forget some cable labels for easy identification and to make troubleshooting easier:

Show me the Money

So what will this cost you? Let’s look really quickly at a breakdown if you are retrofitting your existing racks:

  • 10 ZeroU Cable Management Racks will cost you $211.00.
  • However, since you are going to free up enough room to add another 10 to the same rack, your cost will be $422.00.
  • You’ve eliminated the need for another rack, saving you $1,600.00 – $3,000.00 – or you’ve freed up space in that rack for another system.

Repeating the process of course saves you money quickly. You can also replace bulky vertical cable managers with smaller 4” units at the same time, saving yourself even more space and money.

This works the same way with new installations, reducing the space you use initially. Now you are using five cabinets rather than eight for four systems with the same number of ports.

The Cable Management Difference

One of the largest issues in rapid data center growth is floor space, airflow management, and HVAC requirements. The key to getting ahead of all of those things is the right cable management plan and efficient rack management.

Starting with ZeroU Cable Managers and the right patch cables can get your data center off on the right foot.

The Right Partnership

There are a lot of companies who sell racks, cables, and cable management equipment, but you need more than just a salesman. You need someone who understands data centers, can respond to your individual needs, and can create and ship you what you need in a timely manner.

Personal service makes all the difference. AnD Cable Products offers unique products and customized solutions should you need them. You’ll talk to a real person with real-world knowledge and experience.

Is your data center growing? Contact us today. We’re here to help you grow efficiently and manage the space you already have. We can’t wait to talk with you.


Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimizing Rack Space and Air Flow in Server Racks and Cabinets

Smart optimization can help you increase rack space and realize significant equipment cost savings. Read our step-by-step guide that shows you how – and how much you could save.

  • How Much Rack Space You Could Save
  • How to Optimize for Maximum Efficiency
  • Savings for New and Retrofit Installations
  • Overall Cost and Space Savings Post-Optimization

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/