Solutions based on raised floors move away from the data center

  • The seamless systems of today have the advantage of being easier to upgrade, in addition to making the addition and removal of cabling in other areas of the building more efficient. Raised-floor systems have developed into a standard fixture in the data centers of today; however, as these systems are extended to other areas of the building, the installation of them is becoming increasingly difficult.

    Building designers of today are looking for raised-floor systems that are seamless in order to accommodate larger spaces. Raised-floor systems have become increasingly popular in other areas of the building due to the ease with which they can be upgraded, as well as added and removed applications and cabling. This has contributed to the building's overall expansion.

    According to Bob McCrossan, executive vice president of installer Hi Tech Data Floors (www.   htdf-inc. com), a distributor of Tate Access Floors and American Cable Systems modular wiring products, "They (building designers) are thinking upfront about the applications.""The demand for raised floors comes from a significantly larger market."

    For a number of years, there were hardly any enhancements made to data centers at all, much less any other parts of a building. Raised-floor solutions are being sought after on a much grander scale, according to Dave Walens, president of Exploringdotcom Inc. (www.  brumark. com), who says that as the economy continues to strengthen, the demand for such solutions has increased. Walens believes that the raised floor has arrived at something close to a point of completion. They went into a slight lull, but have started picking up their pace once more. In addition, as demand for these solutions grows, the associated installation and design challenges become more complex. These challenges include cable diameters, alien crosstalk, and a variety of other obstacles.

    A very interesting mechanism

    For installations that involve a significant number of cables, raised floors are a viable alternative. In comparison, overhead systems, in which hot air rises, are not only more expensive but also less efficient.

    The contractors won't have to worry about the cables getting damaged if they run them under the raised flooring rather than through the ceiling. These solutions provide cooling, a reduction in the number and volume of discrete cables, an efficient consolidation of physical hardware ports, and a reduction in the length of jumper cable runs for above-floor management.

    In a nutshell, a raised-floor system is comprised of a series of structured plates that are affixed to an elevated support system. This placement results in the formation of a cavity between the underside of the access floor and the slab. It is possible to lay cables here in order to distribute services.

    Raised floors function in much the same way as a vent system under the floor, directing cool air to the appropriate locations. They are useful in data centers, which are always shifting due to the addition of new hardware or the movement of existing apparatus to different locations within the same room. Cables can be easily managed with raised floors because the cables can be pulled through the floor and laid out in a grid. Once the cables are in place, they can be upgraded or reconfigured without much difficulty.

    Raised-floor systems should be installed, according to Bill Reynolds, the technical director for Tate Access Floors Inc. (www.  tateaccessfloors. com), if a customer is bringing in or plans to bring in new technology, if they need to reconfigure their existing technology, or if they are uncertain of their future needs. According to Reynolds, "quick and easy accessibility to servers, wiring, and data cabling that is located under the access floor" is one of the most important features that access floors provide. You just need to quickly lift it up, and then you'll have access to the surface cavity.

    How to increase the height of the floor

    Both pedestal and movable raised-floor systems are included in the category of raised floors.

    • A pedestal design incorporates pedestals of a predetermined height to support removable floor tiles of a standardized size. The floor tiles are typically fabricated from fire-resistant materials such as steel, aluminum, or wood that has been subjected to a fire-retardant treatment. It is required that the floor be constructed at least 6 to 12 inches higher than the subfloor.

    An adjustable structure is constructed at a height of 18 inches above the subfloor. Dampers and a spring that is encased in a cylinder work together to absorb the vertical seismic shock. The neutralization of horizontal movements is possible with these solutions thanks to a Teflon-coated steel shoe that is wrapped around the base of the cylinder and is able to slide on a stainless steel plate that is attached to the subfloor.

    Floor tiles used in raised floor systems are typically no larger than four square feet in any one dimension. Tiles with perforations in the bottom can be positioned in front of enclosures, disk drives, or other pieces of equipment to help distribute air conditioning to areas that are particularly warm. The floors are also entirely composed of modular components. It is possible to remove utility panels from the floor and relocate them to a different location. Hand Tufted Carpets is possible to position air diffusion devices adjacent to the machinery that generates heat in order to channel air into the perforated panels of the floor. The panels are able to be lifted out of the floor and relocated to a different location in the event that upgrades or changes are required.

    "When they first do the installations, everyone has a desire to put services at a special location," says Reynolds. "But they don't know where services will be needed in the future, or what changes will have to be made to those configurations.""You are looking for a solution that will give you the flexibility to quickly move things around, add new technology, or change things out at a low cost. This raised flooring is not the solution for you if you are not bothered by change or if you do not anticipate receiving any new forms of technology in the near future.

    As a general rule, raised-floor systems are only used in data centers because it is simpler to move air under the floor than it is to move it above it with all of the various pieces of equipment. The most significant difficulties here continue to be those involving access and cooling. Because of the close proximity of the various pieces of equipment, hot spots continue to be a significant problem in data centers. The problem has been made even more difficult by the widespread adoption of heat-generating blade servers. Data centers that were constructed in the year 2000 or earlier typically had the capacity to handle 40 watts of power per square foot. Data centers of today are capable of producing 60 to 80 watts of power per square foot.