Data Center Cooling Systems: An open letter to Consulting-Specifying Engineer Magazine regarding their recent interview-article

Nice article and interviews. A trend we have seen at MonMan over the past 10 years has been end users and cooling manufacturers leading the way, with the engineers playing catch-up. No offense intended, especially to Barton Hogge, who we've worked with before on Electrical and HVAC work for Data Centers in the SouthEast. He's a great guy and a great engineer.

I remember a seminar I attended... must have been back in the 2007 time frame, where a 'highly prominent' figure in the Data Center industry was speaking. Without mentioning names, let's just say this person was with an 'institute' that focused on 'uptime'. He claimed that more engineering goes into designing a strip mall than goes into designing a data center.

He further claimed, and predicted, that in the coming years, consulting engineers would be pushed out of the data center space altogether, as new technologies came into play that required little to no real engineering.

Were I a consulting engineer, I would be highly offended by these comments! Heck, I was still highly offended!

In a way, it seems this has come to pass. The esteemed engineers interviewed for this piece spoke of new, closed-loop systems with the heat transfer happening not just in the rack, but in the server itself. We've already moved beyond hot and cold aisle containment, people - a technology that, a few years ago, was the latest and greatest.

A data center customer can now easily tabulate their server load, call a cooling solutions manufacturer, and in a day or so, have a complete proposal, price included, for a cooling system that is nearly 'plug and play'. Who is driving this? Is it the big end users with mega data centers? Is it the manufacturers who are always pushing for 'the next best thing'? I think it's a mixture of both.

As someone involved in data centers for 15+ years, I've seen a lot of trends develop. Perhaps the most obvious trend is the desire of manufacturers to work directly with the end users, and to push their proprietary systems into the overall building design. Many consultants are brought on board only after some of these major decisions have been made.

I hope that prediction from 2007 doesn't come to pass, and consulting engineers aren't pushed out of the process altogether. It seems if some had their way, that's exactly what they would hope for. A construction project in any industry, without the guidance of a seasoned consulting engineer, is doomed to fail.

A word of caution to end users: don't cut consultants out of the process. A word of caution to manufacturers: don't fancy yourself as the consultant. Stay cool this year, Ryan Hulland, MonMan

MonMan is a Division 09, 15 and 16 firm specializing in market entry, sales channel development and service of efficient solutions for mission critical facilities.

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