Colovore Tip 4 – Air flow management in a high-density environment

Isaiah LaJoie
February 16, 2021

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In a new Server Technology video series, Marc Cram leads a series of conversations with Peter Harrison, CTO of Silicon Valley colocation provider Colovore. They discuss the challenges of being on the front lines of today’s high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence applications. As a colocation provider that specializes in these types of applications, Colovore addresses power and cooling density challenges on a daily basis. 

In the final video in the series, Cram and Harrison continue the high-density cooling conversation started in the previous video and discussed in our previous blog. In this concluding video, they turn to the topic of legacy equipment and its unconventional airflow requirements. Known in the industry as ‘side-breathing’ equipment, this equipment causes fits for data center managers and dev ops teams. Due to the relatively high flow of equipment through the facility, Colovore tends to see it all.

How best to deal with side-breathers and their misfit computing brethren? Through close and careful collaboration with their owners. In the video, Harrison outlines a useful methodology for dealing with the introduction of non-traditional equipment, which includes: 

  • An assessment of the equipment, including space and airflow requirements
  • Working through a design for installation into the vertical space
  • Developing new forms of blanking panels
  • Proposing new ways to encourage power airflow, including power baffles

A simple technique that has evolved through Colovore’s assessments of a range of unusual pieces of IT gear is the dollar bill trick. Harrison places a dollar bill in front of intakes, outputs, and fans to get a sense of the airflow profile of the devices. As he states, the simple technique “… helps answer the question, did you get what you ordered?  It can also help you start to plan the design of the rack.” 

A very collaborative approach is the development of a win-win solution on a customer-by-customer basis. At the same time, states Harrison, “Our objective, all the time, is to make the facilities manager and IT manager look like a rock star, every day, 24 hours a day. As a result of that, we talk to them constantly about what we are trying to achieve, and what they are trying to achieve.” 

For more details about the role that Server Tech three phase PDU(s) play in the management of high-density AI and HPC applications, head to Everything Needs Power Quick Tip Video Series to see more of Marc and Peter’s conversation. Learn more about airflow management in these environments.

We hope you enjoyed our blog series regarding discussions around power choice and airflow in the data center.  Who better for a PDU manufacturer to consult than an end-user who has made a career out of putting equipment to the test? Check out all of our other tips, starting from "Beefy PDUs". You’ll find that Server Technology rises to the challenge in order to keep ever-growing power and compute needs at the service of their customers.

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