What is VESDA - Montreal Server Colocation

What is VESDA

VESDA stands for Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus. VESDA is a smoke detector system that makes use of a laser to detect particles of smoke in the air even before an actual fire is started.

How does VESDA work?

VESDA data center

VESDA technology works as an air sampler. The core device is connected to air tubes that run to different places in the monitored area and sucks air in from those tubes. These samples of air are tested with the laser to determine the quality of air.

The VESDA system is able to alert the security office of the event and even indicate in what zone the sample of air failed.

With time the VESDA system may start doing false positives due to air contamination or particles accumulating in the system, so it is important to maintain it.

Why is VESDA critical for data centers?

Data centers house large amounts of critical and expensive equipment. IT equipment can also take fire, especially server power supplies. In the event of a fire, data centers can’t just dump a large amount of water on top of the expensive equipment. That’s why VESDA is important.

In most well-operated data centers, the 24/7 NOC (or SOC) will receive the first VESDA alert and will be able to go to the white room and see the problem. If it’s a false positive, the technician may simply turn off the alarm. In the event that there is actually a fire or a problem, the technician will try to maintain the fire with a dry, portable fire extinguisher.

Fires in a data center are very rare, and the majority of the time that there is actually an issue it can be contained with the manual extinguisher. In the event that the data center team is unable to contain that issue, the main fire suppression system will engage.

What VESDA has to do with cardboard being banned from data centers

cardboard in data center
Don’t do this !

You will often see data center operators ban cardboard for IT white rooms, and ask you to unbox all equipment in the staging room instead of in the white room. Other than the fact that fire is prone to taking fire, cardboard has a tendency to brittle into very small particles that go into the air and can clog up the VESDA system and make false-positive alerts appear.

Want to know more about fire supression and data center design? Contact-us !