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Scalable and manageable infrastructure ensures smooth sailing for one of Australia’s largest ports

The Port of Brisbane is Queensland’s largest general cargo port, and one of Australia’s fastest-growing container ports. Managed by the Port of Brisbane Corporation, the main port complex is located at the mouth of the Brisbane River, and is the only purpose-built, capital-city, intermodal port complex in Australia.


Port of Brisbane


Transport, Shipping and Logistics


Brisbane, Queensland


Icon Eye


Distributed power infrastructure couldn’t be remotely managed and wasn’t reliable enough to support critical IT systems


Modular 40kW rack-based uninterruptible power infrastructure system which is manageable across the network


Clean, consistent power to the central data centre and remote sites, and secure visibility and control of all power infrastructure including event alerts

Each year over 2,600 ships exchange over 30 million tonnes of cargo over the port’s wharves, which operate on a 24 x 7 basis.  The Corporation is also responsible for receiving containers and transferring them onto the rail networks through its Brisbane Multimodal Terminal (BMT). Goods processed through the port include vehicles, petroleum, coal, woodchips and other major import and export items.

The new central data centre at the Port of Brisbane Corporation has ten racks and houses the systems needed to run the BMT, and support the security office and point of sale catering systems. It also provides load engineering and geospatial software and all of the Corporation’s business tools such as Email and Print servers, Cognos, HP-UX and Windows 2003.

Also hosted out of the central data centre is a wireless ISP, providing broadband services to businesses on and around the port. The hardware supporting these systems includes 62 HP servers, eight VM Ware ESX host servers and a 6 terabyte SAN which is split over two locations.

The APC solution was chosen for three main reasons, system availability, expansion capability and control

Organisations such as Maritime Safety Queensland access data from the port’s systems to help evaluate whether tides and currents are safe for moving ships in and out of the port. For this reason,  the port’s legislative obligations to operate 24 x 7, and the high volume of cargo moving through the port at any given time, it is absolutely critical that the port’s IT systems operate with the highest possible levels of availability.

Because of the port’s location at the mouth of the Brisbane River, the quality of power to the site is highly unreliable. Power fluctuations including surges and sags are common and in the past this has caused problems for the Corporation’s IT systems such as damaged motherboards, server failures and database corruptions.

IT Services Manager Dirk Hoffmann says that the sites previous power infrastructure wasn’t ensuring reliable power and couldn’t be managed centrally.

“The old power infrastructure was made up of a number of individual uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) located at the bottom of various racks in the central data centre and in other sites around the port complex. The only way for IT staff to know there was a problem was to look at the display panel on each individual unit”.

To address these issues the Port of Brisbane Corporation implemented a 40kVA APC InfraStruXure system with management capability across the network, and a fuel-driven back-up generator.

“The APC system was chosen for three main reasons,” says Dirk, “system availability, expansion capability and control”.

The APC InfraStruXure includes the power distribution and power continuance infrastructure within a rack-based system and gives 35-40 minutes of run-time at full load, in the event of a power failure. This provides plenty of time to safely shutdown non-critical applications and switch over to generator power in the case of a prolonged outage.

The modularity of the solution means that as the business grows, expanding the power infrastructure that supports the IT systems is simple and doesn’t require any re-engineering or re-working of the current data centre. It is a case of simply adding new racks and connecting them to the existing power infrastructure.

The InfraStruXure Manager device allows Dirk to view every power device across the entire complex, including UPS and power distribution units located in water towers and remote offices on ships. It also provides automated alerts and reporting for all power and battery infrastructure. The Power Distribution Units are metered which means that the exact load drawn by each individual piece of equipment in each rack can also be monitored and managed.

“Being able to centrally monitor and manage the power infrastructure in all these sites reduces both the time and money normally spent on maintenance, and also means that we are aware of any power or battery issues before they cause any disruption to services, and we can also make sure we never overload a circuit”, says Dirk.

Dirk has been happy with the service received from APC for both replacement of parts and for consulting advice around building the new facilities and planning for the future.

“APC worked closely with us to determine our requirements. It was all pretty seamless from our point of view. We were able to leverage off their expertise and they advised us on what we needed to consider in planning for future growth”, says Dirk.

“We are now in the planning stages for our new disaster recovery site and because of the positive experience we’ve had with them in the past, we are planning to work with APC again for our power and cooling infrastructure”.


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