As we navigate the changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, data centers are proving their worth as critical infrastructure. They’re supporting sudden and significant increases in the need for their services, unlike anything before. Yet these facilities are pressured by the new world order, just like the rest of the business community. Data center operators are implementing their disaster continuity plans and working to maintain uptime and deal with growing demand, and continuing to maintain and staff their facilities, protect workers, and ensure coverage if employees are out because of illness or quarantine.
One way to decrease the maintenance required for a data center, and thus decrease the need for on-site employees while continuing to deliver mission critical services, is to use liquid immersion cooling.
A growing need
The new load on data centers is serious. More employees are working from home—increasing both video calls and VPN use (which increased 124 percent in just two weeks in March). With schools across the country shuttered, educators are relying on Internet access to conduct distance education. Health professionals are ramping up use of telehealth applications to treat patients from afar—in New York, for example, telehealth visits have increased by 312 percent. And consumers are diving deep into streaming video for entertainment and staying connected with friends and family, as providers like Verizon increase available bandwidth to support that upsurge in use.
Liquid single-phase immersion cooling is becoming more visible in these times as the low maintenance solution for data centers – removing concerns about downtime or disruption from the air conditioning breaking or airflow management issues, all of which require on-site personnel to repair. The more people who have to visit the center, the more chance of exposure to the virus to employees, contractors, or other visitors. And the more chance it will impact your critical operations.
Digital Realty had to evacuate and disinfect their facilities after a visitor to their data centers tested positive for Covid-19. All their sites kept running, but a 24-hour evacuation for cleaning is disruptive to say the least. To maintain safe distancing and help reduce risk, Equinix has banned contractors from its data centers in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain and restricted access in other countries. Think about what that would mean if the cooling system has trouble—they would have to violate their own isolation order, which would then also require downtime for cleaning and disinfecting the facility, or suffer even more serious downtime caused by overheating servers.
Because it enables data centers to minimize interaction and limit the contractors and staff who manage the vital work of cooling the servers, liquid immersion cooling is as close as you can get to “set it and forget it” in a data center. The pandemic is expected to last for months. The world will see this increased demand for the foreseeable future, meaning continued reliance on data centers in this heightened way. It’s more important than ever to ensure your data center can operate with reduced staff, and with solutions that can be set up and running within weeks in virtually any environment, liquid immersion cooling is a key way to do this.