Data centers face challenges today because infrastructure is built to last 25 years or more while technology changes every two years or so. You need functional testing so that you can see if your data center infrastructure supports your current technology and hardware.

Let’s look at five steps you should take when performing functional testing on your server rack.

  1. Server rack density. IT needs to collaborate with vendors in developing server rack density projections. You’ll need to know kilowatts per rack baselines in addition to maximum kilowatts per rack limits. It’s important to know the limits of your cold aisle containment systems.

    • More than 65% of IT equipment failures are attributed to inadequate, poorly maintained and/or failed air cooling in the data server rooms.

  2. Management of airflow. Airflow management is operationally vital to a data center cooling system (cold aisle containment). When high density loads are in effect (pre- and during testing stages), airflow management needs to be optimal. Make sure that you are using best practices on all systems.

  3. Plan for functional testing. You’ll want to know ahead of time which tests will be performed, the length of the test, and which measurements will be taken. You may want to do a “baseline” test for your server rack. You’ll want to know that your thermal containment systems are working fine, according to kilowatts per rack limits. If one or more of your cold aisle containment systems fail, you’ll need to know if your redundancy and backup protocols are in place.

  4. Simulate IT loads. An optimal test will test the limits of your climate controlled server racks with a “live” IT load. An IT rack enclosure will have channels to test your load limits. You’ll be able to weigh the benefits of both hot and cold aisle containment.

  5. Server inlet temperature testing. During the functional test, make sure that server inlet temperature on the cold aisle is within proper tolerances. Each rack should have these temperature measurements taken.

Other measurements can be taken during functional tests. Some of these can help check the performance and capacity levels of your thermal containment system.

High density workloads in the data center are increasing rapidly. As your organization’s data center employs densities of 10, 20, and 30 kilowatts per rack, critical functional testing should be used to verify that your cooling systems can adequately support the new higher densities.