Canberra’s clever, clean and green data centre

Friday, 13 March, 2009

Canberra Data Centres (CDC) is a wholly Australian owned, hosted data centre company that was established in 2007 to meet the national capital’s current and future data hosting needs.

CDC boasts world-class ‘green’ data centre facilities that use up to 65% less power than other data centre models, which means massive savings and a greatly reduced carbon footprint for its customers.

The secure, state-of-the-art centre hosts data for government and corporate clients, including the Australian Intelligence Community. It is a superb example of government and industry working in partnership for superior outcomes and substantial cost savings. CDC has one of Australia’s most cost-effective, advanced, clean and green data hosting spaces.

Underpinning CDC’s hosting and services business is data centre infrastructure technology from APC and electrical equipment from Schneider Electric.

Market opportunity

Greg Boorer, Managing Director of CDC, recognised a massive business opportunity in the Canberran market. There was a shortage of secure, available data centre space in Canberra and many commercial and government facilities were at end of life and could not accommodate future demand.

“There has been a massive explosion in ICT computing requirements in the federal government in the last five years,” said Boorer.

“Government departments are deploying blade servers and high-density equipment in their data centres which produce more heat and require more power. They require 10–30 kW per rack and their existing data centre infrastructure can’t cope with current loads, let alone future IT loads.

“We decided to set up a data centre hosting and services business designed specifically to meet government clients’ current and future ICT requirements.”

CDC located a site in Hume, Canberra, and set about converting the two buildings on the site into the capital’s first commercially owned, state-of-the-art tier 3 data centres.

The next step was finding the right data centre infrastructure solutions that would not only meet CDC’s clients’ specific requirements but also support CDC’s go-to-market strategy.

The solution

Critical to the success of CDC are the technology solutions it provides for its clients.

“We needed data centre equipment that could be correctly sized to meet our client’s current IT requirements — ensuring maximum efficiency in the data centre — and which could be easily expanded on in real time to meet our client’s future IT requirements,” said Boorer.

A futureproof, scalable architecture was also critical to CDC’s go-to-market strategy. It needed a plug-and-play data centre solution that could be rolled out easily in phases as CDC secured new customers.

CDC evaluated data centre infrastructure solutions from APC and all other major data centre infrastructure suppliers. APC’s technology was a perfect fit for the organisation and the in-built efficiencies of the equipment made it stand out from all other options.

“In comparison to other options, APC’s offering stood out in terms of technology, pricing and support. It had the complete package — an end-to-end data centre solution,” said Boorer.

APC’s InfraStruXure solution provides ‘on-demand’ architecture for power, cooling and services into a rack-optimised format. To work effectively as an integrated system, all three elements of power, rack and cooling are highly manageable and serviceable.

Unlike its competitors, concurrent maintenance can be carried out on any individual component in APC’s InfraStruXure with zero down time for the production environment — another important consideration.

CDC uses APC’s Hot Aisle Containment systems, which improve cooling efficiency and predictability more than row-based cooling alone. The system contains the heat by sealing off the hot aisle, so the hot exhaust is captured at its source, before it has a chance to mix with the cooler ambient air.

CDC also uses electrical equipment from Schneider Electric, to help run the facility. The facility currently uses Schneider breakers in the main switchboard which powers the whole data centre. In addition, Schneider breakers are used in the sub-distribution boards on the data centre floor and supply the APC UPSs in the pods.

Real-time reporting and data access

Every major component in the APC solution at CDC’s facility is also IP addressable and feeds real-time information on rack temperature, humidity, power consumption and power capacity to a central management dashboard accessible remotely.

CDC provides all this data to clients online and in real time. Clients’ server staff can monitor the entire environment remotely and only need to visit the data centre for routine maintenance or scheduled upgrades, saving thousands of hours of work for clients over a five-year period.

“Our customers’ staff can set threshold alerts that send messages via SMS or email when conditions change through a range of categories up to a ‘Red Alert’,” said Boorer.

Against predictions that power bills will rise between 50 and 100% in the next five years, APC’s InfraStruXure’s hot aisle containment solution saves CDC and its clients up to 65% in power and associated carbon footprint reduction.

What’s more, clients can experience water savings of a minimum of 50,000 litres of clean drinking water per day, through clean, air-cooled, ultra high efficient ‘free air chiller’ technology, making use of the cool Canberran air.

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