Just because you’re worrying more about the computer room flooding than overheating, it doesn’t mean that you can’t start preparing for that heat wave that is -- we hope -- just around the corner. The first place companies will feel the heat when the summer finally does arrive will be in their computer room or datacentre.

Most computer rooms and datacentres are built with cooling systems to keep internal temperatures safely below 22 degrees C. However, a sudden spike of Summer heat can put an extraordinary strain on these systems and for, every 10C increase in external temperature above the average, the risk of a datacentre melt down increases by about five percent.

These percentages soon stack up against the unprepared datacentre manager and many could find themselves having to take quick action to keep their computer rooms and datacentres functioning.

However, with some simple planning, steps can be taken today to stop the panic and minimise the impact of a sudden heat spike.

Know what you have

  1. Is your cooling sufficient for the heat produced by your equipment?
  2. Will it be sufficient for the coming hot weather?
  3. Do you have more that one cooling unit?
  4. If one unit fails can the other/remaining units cope with the demand?

Can portable air conditioning units be used?

How many would you need?

  1. Can you pre-arrange for the supply of cooling equipment?
  2. Is your computer room on an outside wall?
  3. Are there windows available for the pipes to expel the wasted heat?
  4. Are there sufficient power sockets for the air conditioners?
  5. How will security be compromised with doors and windows left open?

Are there any non-critical servers that can be turned off?

Is dev/test equipment actually being used?

  1. Can the dev/test work be put on hold during extreme outside temperatures?
  2. Could blinds or reflective film be fitted to windows to reduce heat from the Sun?

Considering the answers to the above questions is a good start in preparing for a sudden heat spike. It may seem a remote prospect at the moment. However, preparation will also provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the potential dangers of an overheated computer room or datacentre.

All too often, a company’s computer room or datacentre has evolved from a couple of PCs in a cupboard into business critical system and it is worth making the business think about the consequences of losing an application on a server for any length of time. After all a well run, functional and efficient computer room or datacentre is essential for a business’ success, and for its survival.

Kevin Ayling is Business Development Director of Migration Solutions.