Posted by: Mark Fontecchio
AFCOM, Data Center airflow
Computational fluid dynamics has become a popular way for data centers to analyze the air flow in their facilities and determine if the cold and hot air is going where it should. But for smaller businesses, CFD is simply out of their price range.
There are different tiers of affordability out there, however. The cheapest I’ve seen is CoolSim, which at its most basic level, costs $7,500 a year. The other two major data center CFD vendors — TileFlow and Future Facilities’ 6Sigma — go for about twice and four times that, respectively.
Another unique aspect of CoolSim is that it’s a client-server, more services-based model. You have a basic desktop application where you build your data center model. Then you export that model to a file and send the file to CoolSim, which crunches the numbers and sends back a report. With TileFlow and Future Facilities, you do the crunching in-house.
“We deliver it as a SaaS model,” said Paul Bemis, president of the Concord, N.H.-based company. “Since it’s client server, you only pay for what you need.”
But the most important aspect of CFD modeling is accuracy, and with a product like CoolSim, there’s a question around whether you get what you pay for. Pete Sacco, president of engineering and consulting firm PTS Data Center Solutions, has said that cheaper CFD modeling tools such as CoolSim simply aren’t as accurate as the Future Facilities product, which his company uses.
Bemis acknowledges that the Future Facilities software encompasses more detailed results, but says that a lot of data centers don’t really need or want that much detail. And obviously he disputes claims that CoolSim results could be inaccurate. But as with any product out there, it’s all about caveat emptor. If you do your due diligence, you can quickly find out for yourself what is the right product for the right price.