Leak Prevention in Data Centers: How Prepared Are You?
Leaks are one of the major causes of downtime in data centers. Fortunately, they can be prevented by following these four steps to avoid downtime from data center leaks.
- Don’t overprotect
- Don’t assume you know the location of a leak
- Use wire-free detection
- Empower your staff.
One of the biggest downtime threats for data center operators is leaks, and preventing them is one of the most fundamental areas of protection for data centers and critical facilities. The 2013 Cost of Data Center Outages study by the Ponemon Institute reported that, of the data centers surveyed, 24 percent of unplanned outages were caused by weather, water, heat, or CRAC failures. Clearly, damage caused by moisture: weather-related fluid intrusion, faulty piping, and structural failures of roofs and windows, are some of the largest problems of which most data centers must contend. At the same time, leaks from water, caustic chemicals, or other corrosive fluids are also easily detected and extremely preventable.
The average total cost per minute of an unplanned outage increased from $5,617 in 2010 to $7,908 in 2013 to $8,851 in the 2016 report.
The average cost of a data center outage rose from $505,502 in 2010 to $690,204 in 2013 to $740,357 in the latest study. This represents a 38 percent increase in the cost of downtime since the first study in 2010.
Maximum downtime costs are rising faster than average, increasing 81 percent since 2010 to a current (2016) high of $2,409,991.As Quoted from Vertiv
The following best practices for leak prevention can help ensure and avoid moisture-related downtime.
Don’t Over Protect
Some facilities managers think they need to protect every square foot of space from water intrusions. While this is an attractive option for those with unlimited budgets, in reality the best use of resources is to fully protect critical areas around sensitive equipment with a variety of tools (fluid and chemical sensing cables, zone controllers, humidity sensors) and to use spot detectors to protect the rest of the facility (in some cases skipping nonessential areas altogether). Assess where the threats will most likely come from and only protect the necessary areas.
Don’t Assume You Know Where Water Will Run
It is a bad idea to assume that water is going to run or pool in a certain way. When performing facility evaluations after a downtime event due to fluid incursion, one can often see spot detectors in very logical places close to sensitive equipment that water has simply gone around. While well intentioned, in these instances it is recommended to use liquid detection cables. They are extremely versatile and can reach most of the areas where fluids discharge in a facility. This allows facilities managers to protect larger areas at a lower cost, and more importantly, removes the onerous task of trying to predict the direction liquid will flow if a fluid intrusion should occur.
When Retrofitting, Think Wire-Free
It’s not always feasible or cost effective to run more cables and wires all the way back to your home monitoring station or BMS/DCIM. Wire-free leak detection can be quickly and easily deployed to communicate wirelessly back to the base unit, saving you installation costs and time. Recent advances in wire-free monitoring technology have made it an attractive option for the modern facilities manager. Extended battery life, energy harvesting technology, ease of scalability, increased fault detection, and more robust security encryption are just a few of the reasons that wire-free sensors are gaining wider adoption in mission critical facilities.
Empower Your Staff
When an alarm goes off, you don’t want your staff waiting for someone else to show up to fix the problem or standing around and wondering what to do. Implement a reporting and documentation system that includes everyone who might be called upon to act in a crisis. Ongoing training for staff allows managers to make adjustments and improvements, analyze and rectify errors, and avoid making similar missteps in the future. When it comes to water and other fluid incursions, seconds truly count. Make sure everyone can act and knows what to do.
There are a wide variety of threats that facilities managers have to contend with on a daily basis: hardware failure, hackers, natural disasters, and of course, human error. Thankfully, downtime due to fluid intrusions in the data center are one of the few threats that can be prevented, thanks to the advances made in modern facility monitoring technology. By employing these four best practices, you can ensure that small leaks are stopped before they cause big problems.
Additional Information on Vertiv and the Options available to avoid downtime from data center Leaks
Data Center Leak Detection