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Picture the server room at a colocation service provider's data center. It is filled with machines that do the computing work for multiple companies and cooling systems to make sure the servers stay within the accepted temperature range. Each of the businesses that rent out room in the data center depends on the optimum functionality of the equipment in this room. That's why IT managers need to ensure servers are working at full capacity at all times.

But how do data center managers keep their heads above water when it comes to maintaining their IT equipment? How can data centers maintain a high level of functionality while at the same time cutting costs and reducing energy use? One important way is by monitoring the temperature within the server room.

Temperature and ASHRAE

Computing equipment generates a lot of heat. Therefore, cooling systems are needed to maintain a lower temperature and ensure the safety of the machinery. Temperature monitoring can help managers achieve this goal. For instance, ComputerWeekly contributor Clive Longbottom noted that monitoring for hotspots within the data center is critical to the prevention of fires.

There are acceptable ranges for data center temperature and humidity. Computerworld contributor Patrick Thibodeau noted that in 2013, the U.S. General Services Administration recommended using temperatures from 72 degrees F to 80 degrees F, claiming that it could save 4 to 5 percent in energy costs for every degree the temperature increases. However, according to Energy 350, in 2014, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers dictated that to achieve maximum efficiency, the highest temperature data centers should go is 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

As you can see, these guidelines are constantly in flux. As national and global attention continues to turn toward energy efficiency, data center providers are trying to find new ways to cut costs and lessen their impact on the environment. This is a tall order - according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, data centers used enough electricity in 2013 to power twice the number of homes in New York City - or a whopping 91 billion kilowatt-hours of energy.

In response to these increasing numbers, some companies are making concerted efforts to become more efficient. The market for energy efficiency, as a result, is stronger than ever. According to a report recently published by Research and Markets, the global green data center market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 30.8 percent from 2015 to 2022 after starting at $25.87 billion in 2014. In other words, data center energy efficiency is huge right now - but how do data centers become more efficient and reach that "green" designation?

The importance of monitoring

Monitoring the temperature in the server room can make a difference when companies are trying to both save money and reduce their carbon footprint in the long term. Temperature sensors placed at strategic locations around the server room can help provide data center managers with real-time information about how hot, cool or humid the facility is. With this data, IT staff will know whether to adjust cooling mechanisms, potentially eliminating hot spots and preventing costly server room fires.

When companies invest in data center monitoring technologies like the ones offered by Vertiv, it can make a difference in the long run for both energy efficiency and cost savings. Our humidity and temperature monitoring systems come with built-in alerts so that IT staff members know when to modify equipment. In this way, via alerts and tweaks of cooling systems, server room temperature can be easily managed and data centers can achieve maximum efficiency.

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