By Dinesh Gupta, Director, Bry-Air | DATAQUEST | August 20, 2020
With organizations implementing flexible work polices for employees, work-from-home continues to be the buzz phrase even as the restrictions ease out a bit during the COVID-19 crisis. For others whose job is to keep the digital infrastructure up and running, the situation does not seem to get any easier.
Data Centers host majority of the digital moves we make in a day. Be it virtual desktops, communications and collaboration services, data or file sharing, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and databases. There is an uptick in the demand for data center operations in India as people abreast the post pandemic new normal and continue to pursue millions and thousands of activities digitally.
Given the nature of the work at hand for engineers and operators who manage these Mission Critical Areas and are working round-the-clock to make sure that the digital world didn’t collapse at its most critical hour, the environmental hazards can be really interfering. Data centers are always prone to corrosion because of harmful environment created by infiltration of outdoor particulates and gaseous contaminants. If the facilities are situated near landfill sites, sewerage/drains, high density traffic, process industries, etc., the corrosion problem is worse.
Protecting the electronic equipment in data processing centers from any potential environmental threat is a vital step for a data center manager. The overall responsibility to ensure 100% uptime either at company owned sites, co-location sites or server rooms lie with the CIO or CTO. The goal is to achieve acceptable uptime going up to 99.99% depending on the uptime classification of data centers.
Even extremely low levels of corrosive gases in data centers can results in electronic corrosion, increased downtime, low productivity, electronic equipment interference, non -compliance of electronic warranty specifications or even failure of electronic components and sporadic circuit failure, leading to data loss and downtime in data centers.
Sulfur-bearing gases, such as Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) are the most common gases causing corrosion of electronic equipment. SO2 and H2S alone are not very corrosive to silver or copper but the combination of these gases with gases such as NO2 and / or Ozone are very corrosive. The corrosion rate of copper is a strong function of relative humidity, while the corrosion rate of silver has lesser dependence on humidity. If corrosive gases and contaminants are overlooked, it creates an unhealthy environment for employees too.
Thus, ensuring the good health and continued viability of the Datacom equipment and servers in a data center becomes critical. A low-cost, simple approach to monitoring the air quality in a data center is to expose copper and silver foil coupons in the data center for 30 days followed by coulometric reduction analysis in a laboratory to determine the thickness of the corrosion produced on the metal coupons. data center equipment should be protected from corrosion by keeping the relative humidity below 60% and by limiting the particulate and gaseous contamination concentration to levels at which the rate of corrosion of copper is less than 300 Å per month and silver corrosion rate is less than 200 Å per month.
CTOs world over are fast adopting measures to keep a real-time check on the air quality along with deploying gas filtration air-cleaning systems to maintain the air-quality in the data centers. Keeping in mind the demands of the modern data centers, the Gas Phase Filtration systems and monitoring equipment (Corrosion Coupons/ Atmospheric Corrosivity Monitors) ensure that checks are in place to measure the level of corrosivity in the air of the server rooms and that the corrosive gases are filtered out before they damage the micro circuitry of PCBs. Just like many essentials taken into consideration while designing, managing, upgrading a server room or data center, it is important to have Gas Phase Filtration Systems to be on the list of essentials to avoid downtime nightmare and replacement costs.