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Australian Rail Track Corporation saves $100,000 a year with APC while reducing business risks

Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd (ARTC) is responsible for the management of over 10,000 route kilometres of interstate track in South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and NSW.

Company

Australian Rail Track Corporation

Sector

Transport

Location

Adelaide, Australia

 

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challenge

The data centre had unreliable power and cooling which had resulted in systems downtime and the unavailability of critical business systems.

Lack of environmental monitoring meant staff were unaware of issues until they caused systems failure

Lack of centralised management meant IT staff were wasting valuable time managing disparate systems within the data centre.

Solution

80KVA InfraStruxure Type B Power System

Five InRow RC Cooling solutions that closely couple cooling with the IT heat load for optimal efficiency

One Hot Aisle Containment System

ISX Central management system

Two APC Netbotz Environmental Monitoring Systems that measures humidity, temperature and movement

Benefit

Reduced data centre operational costs by $100,000 a year

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

Centralised management simplifies administration and fault resolution

The company, whose shares are owned by the Commonwealth, is also responsible for negotiating new access to the interstate national track between Brisbane and Perth.

The ARTC employs 1400 staff in 50 offices located across Australia. It manages three train control centres in Newcastle, Junee and Adelaide. Supporting its train control systems, radio telemetry communications and essential business applications is ARTC’s data centre.

Challenge

ARTC operated a small room consisting of a mismatch of racks and servers and standard split system air conditioners. The ARTC data centre’s power and cooling requirements were inefficient and undersized. As part of the Federal Government’s economic stimulus program for capital works, ARTC had a charter to increase the reliability and capacity of their national train control systems. This placed new demands on the IT infrastructure, resulting in ARTC developing and deploying a significantly enhanced control system involving new IT hardware, world leading software applications and a high-tech Control Room for Train Control Operations personnel.

The ARTC’s IT team previously had little visibility into the data centre environment and how to achieve optimal power and cooling efficiency. It was not using environmental monitoring technology so when equipment failed, the IT team were not notified. They became aware of an equipment problem after its major operational systems shut down.

“We had an incident where our cooling system failed, which severely affected our control systems.” said Mark Crouch, Senior Infrastructure Architect, ARTC.

“When the cooling unit failed, our servers overheated and started shutting themselves down. Parts of our train control system went down, and notified our technicians of the fault in middle of night. We then had to get in portable cooling units before we restarted the servers”

“If we can’t operate the train control systems, we revert to manual control processes. Our systems were down and trains were delayed as a result. Train delays cost us money - long term outages can cost us in the millions of dollars,” said Crouch.

According to Crouch, managing capacity in the data centre was also an issue.

“It was difficult to add extra racks because of the way the room had grown over the years. We had no means of monitoring power distribution in the room – we couldn’t tell how much power we were using or how much power we had available.”

As such, it was critical the ARTC upgrade its data centre to ensure 99.9 per cent availability of its train control centre and other critical business applications.

Solution

ARTC’s IT team evaluated data centre solutions from a range of providers before deciding to partner with APC for the design and fit out of their new data centre.

“The power and cooling efficiency the APC solution delivered was a big draw. Also being able to calculate cost savings in terms of power and cooling utilisation using the online tool – meant a significant cost saving for us long term,” said Crouch.

The APC solution was presented to ARTC by Alphawest, a wholly owned subsidiary of Optus that provides integrated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions. Being a preferred supplier of ARTC meant that Alphawest were able to bring technologies, processes and the expertise to enable ARTC to have a simple engagement model with a number of vendors.

We are saving nearly $100,000 a year in data centre operating costs - most of these savings are from reduced power and cooling costs.

“Alphawest had a great track record working with us to deliver ICT projects which gave us great reassurance they had the knowledge and experience to provide a multi-vendor solution that would suit our needs. When you couple this with its open book policy it makes for a very transparent and compelling value proposition,” said Steve Bogdanov, Technology & Infrastructure Manager - Communications and Control Systems, ARTC.

In March 2010, the ARTC deployed APC’s InfraStruxure data centre architecture which consisted of eighteen APC Netshelter Racks, a 160kW Symmetra UPS, five 18kW APC InRow Cooling units in a Hot Aisle Containment configuration, two 40kW Chillers, an APC Netbotz Environmental Monitoring system including Cameras and door sensors and an APC ISX Central data centre management platform which also offers advanced Capacity Management tools..

Power and cooling efficiency and enhanced productivity

According to Crouch, the most significant benefit APC’s data centre solutions have delivered the ARTC is security and risk reduction.

“We have reduced the risk of systems failure and increased our train control centre management capabilities. Now our IT team are automatically notified of any anomalies in the data centre so we can address these problems before they have any significant impact.

“We also have greater visibility into the power and cooling requirements of the equipment and can manage power, cooling and physical space capacity much better,” said Crouch.

“We are saving nearly $100,000 a year in data centre operating costs - most of these savings are from reduced power and cooling costs.”

“The InRow cooling is far more efficient – its ramps up and down as required. That is where most of our cost savings come from.”

The centralised management of the data centre allows ARTC’s IT staff to work more efficiently and provide greater support to the business.

“As a support group, we are far better equipped to manage the data centre and ensure high availability of the company’s critical business systems and services.”

Superior customer support

According to Crouch, APC provided extensive support services both during and after the implementation.

“APC’s local team was very supportive and enthusiastic. They invested a lot of time showing us how the solutions work and how they met our specific requirements. We were very impressed.”

“APC proactively offered to manage various aspects of the project, such as the fire rating of the room and dealing with different sub-contractors.

According to Crouch the implementation was very quick and the ARTC Project Team was very happy with the way the project was managed.

“Even post implementation, the project manager and sales manager have stayed in touch to ensure we don’t have any teething issues.”

“Partnering with APC to deploy our new data centre has been a very positive experience,” said Bogdanov. “APC’s data centre technology has delivered the manageability, energy efficiency and robustness we needed to support our critical business operations now and well into the future.”

 

 
 
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