Predicting the future: A superpower that would be great to have, but isn’t very realistic. Imagine the wasted energy, downtime and data center design mistakes you could avoid if you could foresee the future.

Data center managers will never be fortune tellers, but CFD (computational fluid dynamics) analysis and modeling (airflow simulation) offers a pretty good start. This software helps you operate your data centers as efficiently as possible (and without risk) by evaluating options, weighing cause and effect of data center changes and making decisions through simulation – all before any data center changes actually occur in real life.


Used for years in aerospace and biomedicine, and in the development of movie and game graphics, CFD modeling is now proving itself as a viable design and maintenance tool for data centers. Through detailed 2D and 3D CFD analysis, it can be used for predictive modeling, what-if scenarios and capacity planning. This type of software also provides data center managers and designers with valuable insight about the current state of their data centers, as well as predictions about what may happen down the road. With CFD modeling, the best way to design and operate a data center based on its unique requirements and characteristics can be determined long before equipment is ever put in place.

Here are a few examples of what you can do with a robust CFD modeling software tool.

1. Make Better Decisions About Cooling

How do you decide which air-conditioning option will work best in your space? Use CFD modeling to test various approaches in terms of impact on availability, capacity and efficiency – without ever having to move equipment or devices. With this software, you can:

  • Analyze the effectiveness of rack and aisle cooling
  • Locate areas that receive more cold air than needed
  • Identify potential hotspots where equipment doesn’t receive enough airflow
  • Pinpoint areas where cold air mixes with hot air, reducing cooling effectiveness
  • Model airflow under raised floors
  • Illustrate the effects of CRAC failure on airflow and rack inlet temperatures

Thermal Management Techniques to Improve Energy Efficiency2. Run Failure Cases

Want to see what will happen if you change your data center’s layout, or swap one piece of equipment for another? CFD modeling software lets you run a full simulated failure case. Make the change, let the system fail and see how the failure impacts the data center environment in terms of availability, capacity and efficiency.

You can also compare the impacts of different vendor equipment on your data center space. For example, if you’re trying to decide between three hot-aisle containment solutions, try them all out through CFD modeling first to see how each one impacts data center operations.

3. Proactively Manage IT Growth

As your data center grows, you add devices and equipment. IT equipment has changed over the years, and its impact on airflow has grown. This means that, when upgrading devices, just because a piece of equipment worked in a certain spot before doesn't mean the new equipment will – it may cause an imbalance inside the room, row or rack.

The design and interaction of these components is what determines data center capacity and downtime threats. After a row of equipment is already in place is not when you want to discover a lack of adequate airflow. By simulating changes first, you discover the best design configuration before devices and equipment are ever placed. See first-hand how equipment layout, cooling unit location, hot-aisle or cold-aisle containment, under-floor obstructions and different vendor equipment impact data center airflow and temperature distribution.

Belden recently announced a new software with CFD modeling capability.

Belden recently announced a new Virtual Facility simulation software with CFD modeling capability, used to assist data center managers with current and future data center needs. By using simulation software with 3D modeling and CFD analysis to explain to data center managers the impacts of airflow and thermal management on data centers and energy efficiency, Belden helps customers bridge IT and facilities.

Learn more about Belden data center solutions that maximize availability, capacity and efficiency here.

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