High temperatures and humidity, along with other risky environmental factors cost enterprise data centers and colocation facilities. Equipment performance and longevity can be costly. For colocation facilities, violation of service level agreements can lead to a breach, or worse, losing clients to competitors. While there’s plenty of instrumentation to monitor temperature and humidity at the facility level, the ability to monitor environmental factors at the rack level with 99% accuracy remains a challenge for many data center operators.

When you combine wire-free environmental sensor data with an emerging category of data center optimization tools, colocation facility managers can achieve improved facility efficiency because some equipment will be configured automatically. Wire-free environmental sensor data can also help identify faulty or inefficient equipment. Yes, DCIM and BMS can do it, but wire-free environmental monitoring tools can do it with greater granularity and precision. They can feed rack-level data in real-time to the DCIM or BMS so confidence decisions can be made about when and where to raise set points in real-time.

RF Code helped colocation and digital infrastructure service provider Cyxtera (recently acquired and rebranded as Evoque Cyxtera) realize 7-figure annual savings on their cooling costs. After just one year of limited integration, RF Code’s environmental monitoring solution netted Cyxtera $1.2 million in savings. This article examines the details, presenting a case-study perspective on the value of advanced, dynamic approaches to data center cooling.

How RF Code Reduced Cyxtera’s Cooling Costs

Based in Coppell, Texas, Cyxtera operates more than 60 data center locations in over 30 markets across North America, Europe, and Asia. When the company first approached RF Code, it had been spending approximately $80 million per year on its data center cooling costs. Through a discovery audit, the Cyxtera team identified an average set point of 55º Fahrenheit in their data center network—cooler than the 75º ASHRAE standard.

Cyxtera also found that temperatures varied by as much as 10º, which posed a significant obstacle to the company’s efforts to align its practices with ASHRAE’s standard. Without a dynamic system in place capable of accounting for such fluctuations, Cyxtera had to continue operating with bloated cooling costs to guard against the possibility of hotspots causing performance issues or other costly problems posing a risk of leading to downtime.

Given the spread between their prevailing averages and ASHRAE standards, Cyxtera had significant savings potential. Consider: most data centers achieve savings of about 2% with every measured ambient temperature increase of 1º Fahrenheit. So they decided a solution had to be found.

How RF Code Helped Cyxtera Achieve Data Center Cooling Optimization

RF Code’s sensor technologies provided two key pieces of functionality that helped Cyxtera optimize its colocation data center cooling efficiency. First, Cyxtera established a network of sensors in their colocation facilities, which generated granular temperature data down to the level of individual server racks. Cyxtera technicians from around the globe could then log into a centralized dashboard to observe data remotely in real-time.

RF Code’s sensor systems facilitated what Ben Stewart, Cyxtera’s Senior VP of Engineering, described as a “single-pane, one-glance view of the environmental status at all of our sites.” As Stewart also noted, RF Code also allows Cyxtera to “drill down into any individual site or even a suite to see the installed sensors and their [environmental data] values.”

“With enough sensors installed, you essentially have a live CFD (computational fluid dynamics simulation) of sorts, identifying areas where we’re too cold or too hot, and the offsite staff can make adjustments and watch the impact of those adjustments on the screen live.” — Ben Stewart, Senior VP of Engineering at Cyxtera

Equipped with these precision capabilities, technicians could target hotspots with pinpoint efficiency and take immediate action as needed, where needed, within any facility.

Targeted Adjustments Generate Major Savings

When sensor data indicated that too much cold air was being delivered, Cyxtera technicians could remotely reduce cold airflow and address the inefficiency. When the sensors detected excessive volumes of hot air, technicians made similar targeted adjustments to cold-air delivery. In both cases, technicians gained the ability to address temperature inconsistencies and fluctuations down to the level of individual server cabinets.

data center cooling solutions for colo facilities

Cyxtera was thus able to optimize energy efficiency by raising average temperature levels throughout its data center network. The elevated averages remained well within safe ranges, satisfying the conditions stated in their service-level agreements with clients. At the same time, they functionally eliminated cooling inefficiencies, saving the company millions of dollars.

“Because we are a colocation operator, many of our customers are focused on their SLAs,” said Joel Stone, then-VP of Cyxtera’s global data center operations. “We now have accurate sensors to give us the data we need to meet our SLA requirements without impacting the customer’s environment.”

After just one year of RF Code sensor adoption, Cyxtera realized $1.2 million in savings. Following a complete global deployment, the company projects it will cut its data center cooling costs by $15 million.

Data Center Environmental Control Optimization: The Granular-Level Data Difference

Data center facility managers are constantly striving for smarter distribution of cooling—to avoid overcooling or undercooling at the row and rack level. RF Code’s data center environmental monitoring solutions generate precision data, which gets passed between data center infrastructure management (DCIM) and building management systems (BMS). This precise, granular data goes right down to the row, rack, and server levels—adding a deeper layer to the data collected.

Data center cooling solutions like RF Code saved Cyxtera $1 million in a year.

Technicians can view, track, and monitor ambient conditions in real-time from a centralized dashboard. If a particular area is too hot or cold, they can make the necessary targeted adjustments to return conditions to optimal levels.

Data centers have traditionally operated at the lowest temperatures possible, rather than attempting a targeted optimization strategy. But while this blanket overcooling creates safe conditions, it fails to optimize data center energy efficiency. RF Code’s wireless sensors allow facility managers to use intelligent insights to raise set points while, for colocation facilities, adhering to SLA requirements and aligning practices with sustainability objectives.

Resultant benefits include not only cost savings but also:

  • Superior efficiency. By improving site efficiency, data center managers can maintain profit margins while offering their clients more competitively priced services. Therefore, strategic investments in RF Code technologies can help IT service providers grow their businesses and improve customer satisfaction.
  • Regulatory compliance. Granular real-time data equips site management with continuous asset visibility while triggering immediate notifications in the event of a problem. This helps data centers remain compliant while preventing costly downtime.
  • Reduced risk. RF Code sensors also improve site security by supporting access control strategies and monitoring personnel activities. They create more accountability, inspiring client confidence while creating a safer working environment.

Not All Wire-Free Environmental Monitoring Sensors Are Created Equal

RF Code sensors make cooling a data center easier and more cost-efficient tracking and reporting accurate real-time data regarding temperature, humidity, air pressure, leak detection, and more. They provide real-time data on a 24/7 basis, optimizing environmental visibility while helping facility managers avoid or even eliminate costly downtime.

This savings potential also extends beyond energy costs. Management professionals who know how data center cooling works understand that efficient personnel deployment also reduces costs. By automating monitoring, RF Code sensors help technicians focus on more valuable and productive duties. Time is money—and the data center cooling solutions empowered by RF Code data save both.

The RF Code Difference

RF Code’s intelligent, wireless temperature and humidity sensors deliver accurate real-time data at the row and rack levels. This instrumentation captures critical data at the granular level, empowering facility managers to make cost-cutting adjustments to set points with confidence.

Five features in particular set RF Code’s technology apart:

  • Accuracy. RF Code sensors generate precision data in real-time and send timely alerts regarding such critical factors as temperature, humidity, and airflow, among others.
  • Efficiency. Easy-to-use RF Code sensors can help cut costs and eliminate operational headaches.
  • Integration. RF Code’s sensors seamlessly feed data to DCIM and BMS systems, helping those systems benefit from comprehensive information and insights.
  • Data enrichment. Equipped with sensor data, operators can make efficient and intelligent decisions about environmental management. Given the depth, breadth, and precision of the available information and the operational benefits it offers, data center operators can generate significant competitive advantages with RF Code technologies.
  • Automation. Wire-free RF Code sensor networks are fully automated, enabling data centers to conserve human resources and do more with less.

Additional Benefits of Data Center Wire-free Environmental Monitoring Sensors

Beyond immediate and secondary cost savings, precision heat and humidity sensor systems like those produced by RF Code offer several other important benefits, including:

  • Proactive problem-solving. In data centers, even relatively minor problems can lead to chaotic situations and costly downtime. Wireless data centers help technicians take a proactive approach to environmental monitoring. Instead of reacting to problems as they occur, RF Code sensors help facility managers prevent them from happening in the first place.
  • Complete facility and network coverage. Wired systems create physical and practical limitations, and data centers have to operate within the confines of those limitations if they elect to use wire-dependent solutions. RF Code’s wireless technologies deliver superior flexibility, allowing businesses to track location-specific sensor tags across entire facilities and data center networks.
  • IoT compatibility. Thanks to built-in wireless connectivity, RF Code’s sensors capture and transmit data with incredible depth and precision. Users can monitor up to 1,400 sensors with a single reader at a transmission range of up to 300 feet. This delivers extensive real-time access to a rich, dynamic, and continually refreshed repository of critical data points.
  • Scalability. RF Code’s wireless sensors are efficient, practical, and easily scalable. With a simple peel-and-stick installation process, sensor integration is fast, easy, and low-cost. Future growth needs are easy to manage: simply add new sensors or transfer existing sensors from one device or location to another.

Connect With Temperature Setpoint Optimization That Saves Millions

Cyxtera’s success illustrates how RF Code’s sensor technologies hold the potential to generate millions of dollars in annual savings. By providing precise insights into the temperature and environmental conditions impacting data center cooling units, RF Code systems give facility managers the insights they need to ultimately optimize both their energy usage and personnel deployment.

RF Code’s sensors make an especially strong fit for data center operators that:

  • Include specifications regarding site-specific temperature ranges or control measures in their SLAs
  • Lack of existing information input necessary to implement comprehensive data center cooling solutions, or need to improve on systems and strategies that are already in place
  • Have tried other monitoring and cooling solutions without success
  • Require a solution to meet a budgeted project’s needs
  • Maintain an elevated commitment to environmental sustainability

RF Code technologies are also ideal for data center providers that have already felt the sting of a costly compliance failure or need to demonstrate SLA compliance to existing or prospective clients to protect their business.

If you’re wondering how to reduce cooling costs while complying with SLA requirements, RF Code can help. To learn more, sign up today for a free demo of RF Code’s environmental monitoring solutions.