Case study: data centre

Business critical: new 1500 kVA data centre for a managed communications provider

When they outgrew their data centre in Gloucester, directors of this outsourced IT provider turned to R&S to design and build a bigger, even more robust one in Bristol to service the business’s current needs and future growth.


Background


This client is a medium-sized IT company providing integrated hosting, networking and communications services to a wide range of customers. It had two existing data centres but its success meant it needed to expand by building a third centre, which directors chose to be in the Bristol area.

In 2011 they commissioned R&S to carry out a feasibility study for the conversion of a commercial warehouse unit into a data centre, within strict budget constraints.


Challenges

"The company lives and dies by the quality and reliability of its data centre. It’s hard to imagine a company with more of a vested interest in the robustness and continuity of its data centre,"” explains Phillip Matthews.

Our client had the foresight to involve us early on in the process – always a wise decision and particularly for such a business-critical investment. The new data centre had to be scoped and built and the transition seamless with absolutely no loss of service.

The new centre had to guarantee service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


Solutions

R&S scoped and designed the entire new data centre, including all facilities, civil works and plant selection.

Restrictions on space and constraints due to building regulations required us to adopt a rather innovative approach to the design and installation of plant. For example, we housed much of the equipment in the car park area in containerised units: this both overcame the restraints placed on the company and made onsite installation quicker, as we could fit-out individual containers off site and crane them into position "ready to go".

A key aspect of the design was to minimise energy cost as each rack of IT equipment was designed to a 7kW rating. We developed the air conditioning and cooling systems to remove this heat load, using minimum power and using a combination of chilled water and free air cooling. This achieved remarkable results compared to other data centres run by the client.


Works included:

  • front-end site assessment and feasibility study
  • detailed mechanical and electrical design centred on robustness of service while working to a limited budget under strict planning constraints
  • plant selection and specification
  • containerisation and off-site pre-fabrication
  • 3,000 kVA high voltage power supply transformed down to 415/240V power distribution systems
  • installation of two sub-stations, switching panels and PDUs, supported by the installation of a containerised rotary UPS plant and auxiliary generation plant
  • installation of air conditioning including 8” stainless steel chilled water flow and return system, 1,600 kW refrigeration chiller and free air cooling plant to cool the computer racks.

The infrastructure also included the installation of an argonite fire suppressor system, EPO system, lighting, small power and welfare facilities.


Results

The site has, since commissioning in 2011, operated 365 days a year without interruption or failure of the support services. The combination of chilled and free cooling plant, plus an energy monitoring system, has made this one of the most efficient and economical data centres in the UK.

The total project value was £3m with R&S installation and technical support representing £600,000 of this.

"The new centre worked impeccably from day one," says Phillip. "Its ongoing success has led to an expansion of the data centre capacity: an increased number of racks and associated support equipment are now linked into the existing systems without disruption to the service provided. R&S are proud to be retained to provide ongoing maintenance, technical support and customer care for this truly state-of-the-art facility."

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