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Maribyrnong City Council votes for APC data centre architecture

The City of Maribyrnong borders the City of Melbourne and is home to 63,000 residents and 3,000 businesses. Maribyrnong City Council provides 80 different services to residents and businesses, including critical health and welfare services for families, elderly, youth, and people with physical and mental disabilities.

Company

Maribyrnong City Council

Sector

Local Government

Location

Melbourne, Australia

 

Icon Eye

challenge

The data centre had insufficient power redundancy to ensure 99.99 per cent systems availability in the future

Cooling in the data centre was unreliable and at capacity

IT staff were wasting valuable time managing disparate systems and cabling within the data centre

Humidity was causing damage to servers

Solution

20KW InfraStruXure Type B Power System

Two NetworkAIR FM 40A Modular Floor Mount Precision Air Conditioning units for environmentally sensitive equipment areas.

NetBotz 500 environmental monitoring unit that measures humidity, temperature and other environmental threats

An additional 5KVA UPS for failover redundancy

APC Global Services designed and implemented the data centre within 36 hours

Benefit

Increased back-up time to 50 minutes

Precision cooling solutions that are energy efficient and provide highest levels of reliability

Environmental monitoring helps to avoid downtime by alerting IT team of heat, humidity and moisture anomalies

Centralised management simplifies administration and fault resolution

Overhead cabling reduces time spent manual handling equipment

The Council relies on its Information Technology (IT) to ensure these critical services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Council’s 800 employees are spread across 32 premises that are linked by a central data centre located in the Maribyrnong Council Offices in Footscray.

Staff need ready access to critical databases and applications, such as email and the Meals on Wheels logistics software, at all times. Behind the scenes, the IT team need to ensure the 99.99 per cent availability of the Council’s IT systems while managing ongoing growth, simplifying management and containing costs.

Increased cooling and power demands call for new data centre approach

Maribyrnong Council’s data centre consisted of 23 servers, multiple UPS devices, four disparate racks from different vendors and domestic air conditioning unit.

The UPS units had insufficient capacity, providing the Council with zero uptime in the event of a power outage. The IT staff’s valuable time was spent managing each UPS unit and rack individually as well as managing and maintaining a mass of cables.
The large domestic air conditioning units the Council used to cool its data centre were inefficient and unreliable, breaking down on several occasions.

“We had two over-temperature episodes in our data centre,” said Mark Bretherton, Network Administrator at Maribyrnong Council. “One incident occurred on the day I returned from holidays. I received a phone call saying there was a strange beeping coming from the server room. When I arrived, I discovered the temperature in the data centre had reached over 40 degrees. The optimum working temperature is 20 degrees,” said Bretherton.

Even triple redundancy cooling failed to prevent the second overheating incident, in which one of the data centre’s air conditioning units blew up, the second unit tripped the circuit breaker and the third unit couldn’t cope on a particularly hot day.

The overheating of the data centre equipment significantly shortened the life of several servers which subsequently had to be replaced.

“After the second incident, we had to get serious. We decided to combine two projects – upgrading the UPS and data centre cooling solutions,” said Bretherton.

We spend less time managing disparate racks and cabling. Rather than working in the spaghetti jungle, we have an environment that is manageable and allows our IT staff to work more efficiently - fault diagnosis is so much faster

One stop shop

In November 2006, Maribyrnong Council held a closed tender and viewed UPS and cooling products from three different vendors. Bretherton said APC stood out because it offered a complete integrated data centre solution.

“We decided to go with APC as it was the only vendor to offer a complete solution rather than just pieces. Also, we had used APC products in the past and had a very good run with them,” said Bretherton.

APC made a site visit to Maribyrnong Council for a first-hand look at the Council’s requirements and suggested the 20KW InfraStruXure solution. They also recommended two NetworkAIR cooling solutions, APC’s environmental monitoring system and an additional 5KVA UPS for failover redundancy.

APC’s InfraStruXure solution fully integrates power, cooling, and environmental management within a rack-optimised design.

APC Global Services designed the data centre in line with the Council’s requirements and had the entire data centre installed and operational within 36 hours.

“We now have redundancy on our UPS, cooling and hardware. Now if something fails, we have a spare of everything,” said Bretherton.

The Council’s InfraStruXure solution allows for 50 minutes uptime in the event of power failure.

“If the power redundancy expires, the APC InfraStruXure solution automatically shuts down the data centre equipment. When the redundancy on our previous UPS expired the entire data centre would fall on its head, causing loss of valuable data and productivity,” he added.

The NetworkAIR Floor Mount cooling solution also features a modular and scalable design that enables the Council to meet the changing needs of its data centre environment.

“We can double the amount of cooling the system generates when we need to,” said Bretherton.

“APC’s NetworkAir is a far more efficient cooling solution than the generic air conditioning units we were previously using. Not only does it use less energy, but it’s easier to maintain,” he added.

“It uses precision technology, such as a dedicated dehumidification cycle, and is highly reliable. It gives me peace of mind knowing the equipment is safe from overheating or damage from condensation.”

APC’s Environmental Management System monitors temperature and humidity in the data centre. Bretherton said they did not monitor data centre humidity previously. During the APC implementation, they discovered humidity had been a problem in the old data centre and had caused corrosion in the servers over the years.

Centralised management and scalability delivers cost savings

InfraStruXure provides Maribyrnong Council with a centralised management system, including remote access to the Council’s servers. The system proactively alerts the IT team to any anomalies via SMS or email. It allows the team to resolve issues before users even realise there is a problem and to avert system failure.

InfraStruXure features integrated cabling and cooling, eliminating the need for the Council to build a raised floor. The solution’s on-demand design also prevents the IT staff from oversizing and lowers cost.

“It was important that we deployed a scalable solution. In the past seven years, our data centre has grown from three servers to 26. Part of the reason the data centre was in such a mess was because of how rapidly the network had grown,” said Bretherton.

“We can now add to our network quickly, easily and cost effectively – it takes us three hours to set up a new server compared to two days.”

 

 
 
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