The problem of Particulate Matter (PM) or Dust and your Data Hall.

This is not a new problem; it has been known about and discussed for years. John William Toigo wrote back in 2003, in his long running publication. “Contamination has been the indirect cause of more IT downtime than all the fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and disgruntled employees combined.” – Jon William Toigo, Disaster Recovery Planning, Third Edition. In 1999 Mark Sher wrote Contamination: The Undetected Disaster for the Disaster Recovery Journal. And there are plenty of articles and papers going further back.

With the massive increase and ever-growing Data Centre/Data Hall market, around the world, driven by the need for more and more data storage. The issue of PM/dust contamination should be on the mind of all involved in this sector, from the user to the operator and owner of the equipment. “Most companies own varying amounts of IT and data equipment, representing a large investment to an organisation. This equipment is often referred to as ‘Mission Critical’, and the need for uninterrupted use essential, but contamination events can obstruct this”. I wrote in my 2021 article in Cleanroom Technology: Technical cleaning as part of data centre particulate matter control. From IT Cleaning Ltd.’s point of view the issue is not abating but becoming bigger, which of course is good for business. I put this directly down to the increasing use of economized air within the data centre market. This is allowing PM down to 0.3, 0.5 and 1.0µm (5.0µm are generally controlled) to enter directly into the data hall via the air flow. I am seeing this more and more in my site visits when I take preliminary particulate tests.

Anyone who is concerned about PM/Dust contamination within their Data Hall, Data Centre, Comms Room etc. Should take John William Toiga’s advice: “Perhaps the most important step to take to control contamination, is to contract with a reputable computer room maintenance company, to perform routine cleaning”. John William Toigo, Disaster Recovery Planning Third Addition. Whilst I agree Technical Cleaning to ISO 14644-2015 Class 8 is not the whole solution it is a big part of a holistic solution to controlling this problem.

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