Mar 06 2013

Why Cooling Systems Need Backup Plans Too

In the event of a disaster, make sure your backup plans include your power and cooling systems.

Many prudent IT managers take extra steps to keep their servers running in case of a power outage. Uninterruptible power supplies offer enough battery backup to allow an organized shutdown that will keep precious data from being lost. Generators may keep critical systems online even longer.

But relying on either measure could have dangerous consequences if cooling systems don’t receive equivalent care.

“We see clients take out their own data centers because they have long battery life on their UPS systems, but they don’t have any backup power for the cooling equipment,” says consultant David Hutchison, senior partner and founder of consulting firm Excipio.

One client recently learned this lesson even though it had felt fully protected with a pair of 20-ton air handlers, a generator and numerous UPS systems. A storm cut power briefly, and while all the server backup systems responded properly, one of the air handlers never resumed operation.

“Even though everything was up and running, they didn’t have enough cooling for the room,” Hutchison says. “In the hour it took for a tech to get from his house to the building, the temperature in the room went from 78 degrees to 109 degrees.”