Monday, December 31, 2012

In the Middle

That is where I find myself today.  Right square in the middle of a real conundrum!

One part of me says, "Enjoy the season, soak in the great year we had, there will be plenty of time for getting back to it later".

The other half of me says, "No, let's get with it ... Don't be too idle!"  Focus & let's roll.

Deep down, I nurture the Hedge Hog more than the Lizard, Off we go!

Thank you for a great 2012, looking forward to serving many in 2013.


Data Center Power Usage & Conservation within the Infrastructure

Where you are in the cycle

Are you trying to figure out how to balance keeping the heat rejection for data rooms, computer rooms, and telecom locations working at maximum efficiency and performance, while trying to help reduce operating expenses within your customer’s budget? This is just one of several challenges that contractors are facing today as mission critical environments continue to evolve.

Then and Now

Not too many years ago, it was fairly simple. The manager or operator of a data center would call you up to install a couple of computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units against the wall of the center. Then you would connect the piping, controls, and the electrical service and perform a routine start-up of the new units. Unless you sold a maintenance agreement to the customer, you and they were done.

Back then, engineers and data center operators were working under this premise: How many watts per square foot would the information technology (IT) equipment consume, therefore reject, into the room in the form of waste heat? The calculations were simple enough; the conversion from watts to Btuh was made, and the appropriate tonnage CRAC units were ordered and installed. This process worked pretty well for many years. Even though the CRAC unit placement within the space was not ideal, there was usually enough tonnage to totally saturate the room with cold air. The mindset concerning electrical costs was, “They are what they are.”

But times have changed. One of the rules of thumb in IT is Moore’s law, which states, “Every 18 months, the computing capacity, meaning work done by a computer, will double.” Therefore, the amount of heat given off by the computing equipment will rise as well.

That law and other factors drive many decisions in the IT field. As a result, the cooling of those very same data centers took on a whole new complexity. No longer may we work based on watts/square-foot calculations. Today it’s all about kilowatts (kW) per rack of IT gear. The introduction of larger-capacity, faster, and therefore hotter computers (especially blade-style servers) has forced many engineers to analyze the physics of cooling the data room.

The focus now, and going forward, is heat removal and, in particular, capturing the heat as close to the source as possible. Most of today’s CRAC and computer room air handler (CRAH) units do not sit on a wall (known as room cooling) at the perimeter of the data center. Instead, they are strategically located within the rows of IT equipment, or otherwise positioned to ingest all of the hot air possible — the higher the return air temperature is, the more efficient the overall operation is.

Many of the units themselves do not resemble air conditioners. More often than not, they look like a rack of IT equipment, with the same dimensions and the same name brand in many cases. This has taken on the name in-row cooling.

Now the current mindset regarding electrical costs seems to be, “We must be as efficient as possible in order to pay as little for power as possible.”

Ask the Right Questions

So how do you, as a service/installation/integration partner for
your IT-savvy clients, help the company save money? As always, start by asking questions.

What kind of input is your client seeking from you? Could you possibly save the client operating dollars by studying the layout of the IT gear and making placement suggestions based upon heat load?

Many existing data centers have an abundance of heat-removal capacity, read as tons (or kW) of cooling. The problem is the supply and return (as hot as you can get it) air distribution. It is highly inefficient to mix the supply and return air of any mechanical system. You wind up only extracting a portion of the heat from the room into the airstream, where it can then be transferred into the chilled water or refrigerant and, finally, expelled from the room.

Would it make sense to duct or re-duct either the supply or return air in an existing facility? Is this the only site they have in operation, or is there a disaster recovery (DR) site elsewhere?

Also, start looking around and checking out what the IT staff is installing and working on. Are the rows of equipment placed in a hot aisle-cold aisle design? Do you have to turn the set points down low to keep the cooling on for longer cycles? Are the CRAC units fighting each other, meaning some are cooling, some are reheating, and others are fighting the humidity set point? All of these are signs of inefficiency and waste.

What about containment systems, freezer strips, rack hats, end caps, etc.? All of these devices and products, including fire-proof foam blocks and rack U-space blanking panels, are an increasingly important part of mission critical environments because they keep the heat isolated, allowing the heat rejection systems to do their job to the best of their ability.

What happens if you lose a compressor due to short cycling of air due to poor perforated tile placement? Will you drop the critical load? You need to know what level of service your customer commits to provide for its customers, which is typically specified as a Tier 1, 2, 3, or 4 service level agreement (SLA). What are the expectations of up time? Is it 99.999 percent of the time? If so, that is still 5½ minutes a year of outage — is that OK? Can you commit to responding to those requirements?

As a good partner, you must also be highly cognitive of any issues associated with the green movement. Many data centers are connected in some way to a LEED-certified building. So, what impact may that have on operations, operating procedures, chemicals for coil cleaning, etc.? Are the CRAC/CRAH units draining their condensate into a cistern for non-potable irrigation water or cooling tower make-up water?

These are just a few of the interwoven complexities of operating a green building and an efficient data center simultaneously. All of this must be happening while ensuring that a balance can be struck with the requirements listed by an ever-growing list of certification agencies (and oh, by the way, keeping the equipment energized, on-line and removing heat from the critical space).

Be a Resource

When it comes down to it, HVAC is only a slice of the pie that critical facilities managers are responsible for. As contractors, we need to make it easy on the managers to communicate their needs to us. If you learn what is driving their business, maybe you can figure out a way to help them stay on-line. Then maybe, just maybe, you will viewed as a resource. No one wants to be just a vendor or just the heating and air guy.

By showing your willingness to step outside of the normal service provider or contractor stereotype, you will become an ever-more-important partner to your customer. After all, isn’t that where we all want to be?

Greg Crumpton can be reached @ or via cell @ 704-807-9877

See this and more articles @: &

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Question: How can you establish a leadership team within your ranks?

The Question:  How can you establish a leadership team within your ranks?

by: Greg Crumpton
Many companies get to a point where you have to have some lieutenants to help forward the mission.  So you corral your top talent, real stars who get it, care about the mission and yet, have been taught little, if any, leadership skills.  Maybe a couple of them served our great country through one of the armed forces, maybe one was the captain of the football team or the majorette in charge of the drill team in college.  But overall, we all grow up, refrain, most of us grow up having to learn leadership from in front of the keyboard, becoming a student teacher, which from what I gather is like the band scene in the movie “Roadhouse” where the crowd was throwing stuff at the band  or peering out of the windshield of a service vehicle.

 First step, get your core together and ask them what is it they want from a leadership position?  Most of the front line assassins simply do not know.  It isn’t that they do not want to help, it is simply that many people do not know what leadership looks like, sounds like or moreover, feels like to be sure.  Once you get them circled up, it does get easier, for me, we start simple and depending on your group, ours are mid-thirties with a wife/husband and two kids on average.  

The amount of time that they can spend on personal development can be impaired fairly significantly until the kids are of a functional age and that the spouse of said employee or team member realizes that the effort by their partner may well indeed pay off later in life.  Learn how to deal with the DIMK’s (Dual Income Multiple Kid’s) group, they make up our future and current leaders.

As a male, I can attest to the fact that we on average do not mentally mature until we are in our mid thirties or at least 74.5% of us.  That isn’t a bad thing, it just is, deal with it, pace yourself, your expectations and work through it.  As a male doing what I can to serve the female members of our team, they do get it much faster, they also tend to have many more responsibilities than their hairier spouses, it all will come in time.  Just keep the faith, keep the energy flowing and work on your on expectations as to what you can expect from this next generation of EXCELLENT leaders you are shepherding.

Parting thought, Do Not Not Do This, It Is Important, We all need the next generation to be strong, keep the faith even on those days when you feel that ... whatever feeling.  

Dig In!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Know when to do what

The Delicate Balance of Knowing when to Lead, Coach, Mentor or Parent
March 27, 2012
Do you ever find yourself in the weird space of trying to, instantaneously I may add, figure out which role you need to take on?  Maybe a young member of your team needs some guidance on a particular thing, now quickly, which hat to wear?
As we learn and as we learned when someone either taught us the right way or we figured out that what we were told was totally wrong, the guidance will most likely stay with you for a long while.  For me, some of the lessons are now 30 years old, I am 47.  Not just business lessons, but moral and “self-regard” lessons.  Lessons that you are proud that you learned along the way and that you want to bestow upon the person willing to heed good common-sense based advice without them thinking you are trying to navigate for them.  Delicate indeed.
We have all learned from others, watching, listening, mimicking, doing the complete opposite of what we saw, etc...  What are you displaying that others may need to know, see or hear?  Or not?
It is up to us, even if you consider yourself average or less than average, in regards to teaching, Just Do It.  The people you may influence, for the most part you may not even know you are influencing some of them, will keep those memories forever.  What are you delivering to the masses?  Would you be proud to have your kindergarten aged child see what you are doing over the course of the day ... the night?  This thought scares me from where I have been to in some of my younger years!
My motto:  I am a work in progress.  Never satisfied with my delivery, always working on my content and the proper way to introduce my mission of EXCELLENCE to others.