Helping achieve Tier III status by complex electrical supply to data centre infrastructure
Data centres use a four tier system to provide a simple and effective means for identifying different infrastructure designs and associated service levels to their customers. In order to achieve Tier III status, the UK Data Centre needed to upgrade their incoming electrical supplies to satisfy the Tier III standards on ‘uptime’ and the risk of power outages. In short, better electrical resilience and reliability. In order to achieve this, complex mains supply work had to be undertaken and connected to the low voltage power network which supplies the data centre.
Experienced cabling and electrical services were therefore needed. GCL were the obvious choice, being fully accredited electrical and structured cabling engineers. GCL also work in collaboration within their industry bodies and are also highly experienced in Data Centre requirements. This broad electrical and intelligent building expertise gives GCL the experience to manage all types of complex electrical works and data cabling works, as well as building management systems.
In for industry standards had to be met and deliver specific client requirements for the project, GCL had a specific set of criteria to deliver:
- Additional mains utility power feed and transformer needed to be installed
- Should power sources fail, generators needed to replace the power supply automatically and without interruption
- End of life, older and redundant electrical infrastructure had to be replaced with new technology
- Any disruption to business operations had to be kept to an absolute minimum
- All operating manuals and operational details needed to be collated
Even with a clear set of requirements, the building design, infrastructure, access and location can present logistical challenges. Also, with a Data Centre business operations that depend on access to Data 24 hours a day thorough logistical planning with various parties was necessary to ensure a Project delivered without any impact to the Business. An environment where temperature has to maintained within certain parameters also added to the complexity of the Project.
Other examples included:
- The data centre did not have two dedicated sources of mains supply
- Physical delivery issues of the high voltage RMU (Ring Main Unit) and LV transformer were particularly challenging due to restricted access on site
- Close teamwork with structural engineers was necessary to support the 4000 Amp Schneider busbar system through a very constrained route
- There was an absolute necessity to maintain business continuity for the client
- The inherent risks associated with the complete shutdown of all systems within a data centre
To resolve how to winch the required equipment into a very confined site necessitated significant Client participation. During the client consultation, it became clear that a complete audit of the infrastructure was required. Any solution needed to keep the critical equipment energised whilst installing the new transformer and second supply. This required a very detailed logistical exercise to ensure Project activities considered all potential consequences.
Improving the resilience of LV power supplies
GCL used their expert knowledge to implement a mobile electrical generation system, the fixed data centre infrastructure and the IT equipment necessitated a transfer of power to a temporary supply in a deliberate and time sensitive manner. Through constant communication with the client, IT department, Distribution Network Operator and subcontractors the project was delivered on time and on budget.
A safe and dependable IT system
The UK Data Centre not only achieved the Tier 111 status they required but also benefited from:
- Completely unaffected operations during the shutdown period over a four day Easter Weekend
- Complete preservation of out of region business operations
- Full compliancy with UK Health and Safety Legislation (Electricity at Work Act 1989)
GCL were able to optimise the efficiency and cost-effectiveness by designing the most appropriate data centre infrastructure. As the UK Data Centre grows and evolves, the electrical infrastructure now installed will accommodate future expansion without disruption.
“We were impressed with the both the advice we received from GCL and the quality and expertise of the delivery. They successfully negotiated all of the inherent risks of working in a live data centre to achieve the desired outcome.” UK Data centre client