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APC partnership delivers state of the art data centre for Box Hill TAFE

APC project manages entire build and fit-out process to provide the latest power and cooling technology.

Company

Box Hill TAFE

Sector

Education

Location

Melbourne, Victoria

 

Icon Eye

challenge

Box Hill TAFE’s 25 year old data centre was running at capacity through significant growth over the past five years.

Increasing online activity by all students placed much higher demands on the data centre.

In summer Box Hill TAFE had to rely on manual systems of cooling, like leaving doors and windows open and having fans constantly running - an insufficient and inefficient method of cooling that needed to be addressed.

Solution

Symmetra PX40 UPS system

Power Distribution Unit

InRow RC Coolers

3x 40kW chillers

ISX Manager

Benefit

The modular system allows Box Hill TAFE to add new racks and servers and adapt new power and cooling components as demand increases.

Decrease their down time and increase the user life of data centre equipment.

APC’s InfraStruxure technology provides complete monitoring and measurement within the data centre.

Organisational challenge

Box Hill is one of Australia’s largest TAFE institutes with over 40,000 students enrolled each year. The Institute has experienced significant and sustained growth over the past five years, driven by a large number of overseas students.

In 2009, the data centre was 25 years old and running at capacity. It was not survivable in case of a fire and there was insufficient electricity, physical space and UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to meet the TAFE’s requirements.
Similar to other Australian educational centres, Box Hill had experienced a significant change in online use, with students viewing and downloading a high proportion of high definition audiovisual media. Coupled with the increased user numbers, this had placed much higher demands on the data centre.

“During the summer months, doors had to be opened and fans were constantly running to support the cooling systems,” explains Chris Tayler, Acting CIO, Box Hill TAFE. “Cooling systems 25 years ago were just not designed to cope with the heat that today’s modern technology throws out.”
Chris Tayler’s plan was to build an entirely new data centre with capacity to meet the TAFE’s current requirements as well as allowing for future expansion to meet user demands over the next 10 years.

The design was developed involving a two-phase expansion plan. A 50 sqm data centre was constructed with an internal wall erected to split the facility in two and minimise its cooling requirements considerably. As capacity expanded, the wall could be easily removed and allow the size of the data centre to double when required.

Box Hill received 12-13 viable submissions to its tender process which it rigorously reviewed to determine which providers would deliver the best ROI, with the least risk and lowest ongoing costs.

Having reduced the shortlist to three suppliers, APC was selected as the preferred partner. “APC were the natural choice – they provided the best return on investment and had the most efficient power and cooling systems to run the data centre effectively,” explains Tayler.

The data centre was built above flood levels and designed using a modular system to allow for easy upgrade of the data centre as demands increased. The server capacity already existed and new chillers could be added to meet further demand as necessary.

The APC rack and cooling modular system enables the institute to plan for the future and take it through the next decade without the need to re-build.

The data centre build commenced in August 2009 with an aggressive build program of just three months. The centre needed to be finished before the onset of summer to minimise overheating issues and downtime, typically experienced with the older data centre.

Solution

APC’s involvement in the build process included complete project management of the whole process from the ground-up. This involved all building, mechanical and electrical works as well as data cabling, fire detection systems and full fit-out of the new facility. Tayler explains: “APC had a clear understanding of the drivers needed for Box Hill TAFE’s data centre and managed the entire build and fit-out process within a very tight timeframe.”

In addition to the data centre build and program management, the project involved the construction of a raised floor, the development of custom made chiller stands and the provision of external generator connections.

The new build was completed in just three months, enabling APC to commence work on the fit-out. A complete power and cooling solution was provided, including a Symmetra PX40 UPS system and power distribution unit.

APC had a clear understanding of the drivers needed for Box Hill TAFE’s data centre and managed the entire build and fit-out process within a very tight timeframe.

“APC has smart equipment and the InRow systems have made an immense amount of difference to our cooling requirements,” explains Tayler. “By reducing all hot spots, the InRow coolers are barely ticking along and have lots of spare capacity to cope when demand increases and temperatures heat up in the summer months.

“What’s more, we’ve managed to increase the capacity of our virtual servers by 200% without requiring additional cooling facilities.”

Box Hill TAFE also selected APC’s InfraStruxure technology to provide monitoring and measurement within the data centre. The data racks provide information on when the system is overloaded as well as temperature readings so that cooling can be managed as appropriate.

“I receive email alerts to let me know when the racks are reaching capacity and the temperature is increasing,” comments Tayler. “It means I no longer have to be on site to monitor the systems. I can access all the data and information I need remotely and get others to take any necessary action. It’s made my job a lot simpler.”

Benefits

“The APC proposal presented us with a far better option than other suppliers,” comments Tayler. “The main benefits were achieved from the modular system. As demand increases we are able to add new racks and servers to meet requirements and adapt new power and cooling components as necessary. What is more, rack cooling rather than room cooling delivered us with huge efficiencies.

“We have seen absolutely brilliant performance of the data centre. The new facility is state of the art with DC power independent of the building power and reasonable fire suppression”.

“With the new facility, we’ve significantly decreased our down time, increased the life of the equipment and had far fewer requests to restart the servers. The summer months are no longer a worry and I sleep a lot better!

“I’ve also been very impressed with APC’s ongoing service delivery. One afternoon we experienced a problem with a chiller and reported the problem to them at 4.30pm. By 4.45pm we had an APC engineer on site and the problem was resolved by 6pm. There are very few companies where you receive that level of service.”

The first half of the Box Hill TAFE data centre is now almost full and plans are being developed to expand in to the second half of the facility.

“It’s great to work with a company that you can have a relationship with for the long haul. You’ve no idea how happy we’ve been, it’s been a really successful implementation,” concludes Tayler.

 

 
 
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