The best of the EMEA data center industry

Awards winners, announced at gala ceremony in London last night, highlight the best of the industry in 2013

13 December 2013 by Penny Jones - DatacenterDynamics

Category 01: Future Thinking & Design Concepts
Winner: Asetek - Breakthrough data center energy efficiency through low-cost liquid cooling with waste heat recovery

This Award recognizes the innovation and thinking that is shaping the next generation of cutting-edge data center solutions. These solutions raise the bar in terms of innovation, ease of deployment and ‘real world’ application. All previous winners demonstrate more than anything the power that creative and focused thinking can have in developing solutions that will make a real and positive difference to data center operation and management.

Asetek’s RackCDU integrates liquid cooling into all commercial server brands to reduce cooling energy by 60 to 80%, reduce IT load by 5 to 10%, and increase server density by 250%.

While a handful of mega data centers have adopted ultra-efficient/ultra-expensive designs in exotic locales, such facilities are impractical for the industry-at-large, Asetek said. RackCDU is an industry-standard solution enabling the same performance in all data centers at a much lower price.

RackCDU is a simple, low-cost, drop-in solution for liquid cooling. The solution uses dripless quick-connectors for all liquid tubing, hot swappable pumps for redundancy, lead detectors and alarms, GPU and memory cooling and a new Inside Server Air Conditioning product which eliminates the need for computer Room Air Conditioning.

RackCDU’s performance has been validated in six data centers worldwide, including KPN International in the Netherlands, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US (which claims to be the world’s most efficient data center) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Category 02: Data Center Blueprints
Winner: ttsp hwp seidel GmbH – GSI GreenCube mega data center

Behind every cutting edge data center are a number of great ‘blueprint’ design and management ideas. This Award is about recognizing the new thinking that paves the way for the next generation of facilities through design, project management and construction. Winner show innovation, efficient use of resources, future-proofing and delivery in their conceptual designs, which are an important part of the data center industry’s evolution.

This year’s winner, the GreenCube, is a standalone large data center with an IT load of 12MW and more than 10,000 servers and more than 50 petabytes of storage deployed on a steel shelf six stories high housed in a cube measuring 27x30x21m and technical building of 27x6x8m.

The GreenCube was built at a cost of €16.7m for a European research project. The CAPEX was less than €1,400 per kW of installed IT load.

The Tier II facility, with a PUE of 1.1, is six times denser than the average data center, with 600W per cubic meter of white space. Cooling alone accounts for 4% of its IT load on a yearly average.

Steel was an important material for the design, as it can be reused once the facility is no longer required – it is found in cabinet shelving, the roof and façade.

The design team said the key-challenge was to build a data center with a gigantic IT-load for very little money on almost non-existing space. The team based its design on the MiniCube data center and designed the redundancies of the infrastructure based on the requirements of the IT – no chiller was used (cooling is done using passive heat-exchanger doors) and UPS-systems and completely redundant supplies are limited to systems that need to fulfil strict SLAs.

Category 03: Innovation in the Micro-Data Center
Winner: Enegas – Enegas Green Data Center

Small may be beautiful but the design and operation of data centers of up to 250KW brings with it its own particular challenges of space utilization, power distribution and back-up, cooling, access and security. Most micro data centers are situated in buildings designed primarily for purposes other than housing IT and this accentuates the challenges of designing and operating the micro-data center.

Enegas’ green data center in Zaragoza, Spain, is an exemplary model of convergence between IT improvement and facilities. On one hand 80% of servers have been updated and virtualized in 9:1 ratio. On the other, an existing small building has been transformed into a Tier IV LEED Silver Certified Data Center which draws its energy from a small 160kW tri-generation plant.

The residual heat being generated during the gas combustion process is used in two ways; by providing the data center cooling and via heating the main high-pressure meter’s calibration laboratory at a constant temperature.

All IT system shave been transformed to maximize energy efficiency, and servers have been Energy Star certified and IT optimization has been used to further reduce energy use. The data center, as a result, has a PUE of below 1.2.

Once this facility is built, with the help of architect and engineering consultants Quark, it will work with the power company’s other data center in Madrid

Category 04: Innovation in the Medium-Data Center
Winner: Colt Technology Services – Netherlands 3 energy efficient data center

The efficient design and operation of ‘medium’ data centers - between 250kW and 2.5MW in total facility power requirement - brings with it its own challenges of design, operation and optimization. While market attention has traditionally been focused on very large, flagship projects the medium data center represents for many organizations is their principal IT facility and therefore the core of their mission-critical business.

Colt opened its 20th carrier neutral data center in Roosendaal, the Netherlands – called Netherlands 3 – at the start of this year. It was built using Colt’s ftec architecture, which allowed it to be installed onsite within weeks.

Located at the heart of the Benelux commerce area, the facility provides capacity on demand. It is built above sea level (which is rare in The Netherlands) and uses airflow management and optimization for chillers for free-air cooling and heat reuse. Its PUE is 1.21.

The ftec modules are built offsite, using production line techniques. The site itself uses no more than a bath full of water in its typical operation.

The 20,000 sq m data center, built on a 39,000 sq m greenfield site, uses 100% recyclable materials and no wet trades. It has 32MVA of power provisioned.

Category 05: Innovation in the Mega-Data Center
Winner: Facebook – Luleå Datacenter

The mega-data center is the landmark that sustains today’s technology-driven world. Each enables a quantity of transactions, storage and IT application that make possible many business and life activities. Always newsworthy and occasionally controversial, the mega-data center (a facility over 2.5MW in total facility energy demand) - brings with it its own unique challenges. What may constitute a glitch in a smaller facility can magnify exponentially in a mega-data center. Mission-critical issues of availability, efficiency, redundancy and scalability take on a higher risk profile in the largest facilities. Market attention has traditionally been focused on very large, flagship projects, as indicating future directions in best practice and leadership in the data center sector.

When setting out to build its first wholly owned data center, the Facebook infrastructure team reconsidered the design of each of the functional components of a data center from software to servers, equipment cabinets, electrical systems, mechanical systems, and building form. Their goal was to build the most energy efficient data center in the world, in Sweden. Facebook said it surpasses its facilities in Forest City and Prineville, in the US, in terms of efficiency.

In this facility, the data hall suites and mechanical penthouse function as an occupied air handler. The mechanical penthouse has air in-takes along the entire west face and exhausts along the east face, allowing for a low energy air distribution without the need for extensive ductwork.

The building expends no energy for mechanical cooling via refrigeration. Cooling, when required, is supplied by system capable of 100% outside air economization first and a high-pressure misting system second.

The physical infrastructure, from grid to gates, was redesigned with a focus on an energy efficient ecosystem. Further to the mechanical systems, a 240V AC distribution to custom designed servers yields a data center that uses 38% less energy than previously leased facilities with redundant substations allowing for 70% less generator capacity compared to full design load.

The data center has a design Water Usage Effectiveness ratio of 0.31 L/kWh, much lower than a typical chilled water plant WUE of 1.0 L/kWh.

Facebook is running the data center at temperatures as high as 29.4°C instead of the 20°C commonly used today. It has a PUE of 1.07 and operates with 24% less costs then its leased facilities.

Category 6: Leadership in the Public Sector
Winner: Servicio Madrileño de Salud – Athene@ Data Center Project: Cloud IT Services Health Center for Madrid Regional

This Award recognises the achievement of government and public sector IT-focused initiatives, projects and strategies in meeting both the requirements of clients and publics and organisational/policy-driven objectives. The winner will join those successful in previous years in demonstrating an attention to sound technology and engineering, best practice in project/team management and the leadership required to bring together the disparate groups inside and outside Government necessary to deliver the required end result.

This year’s winner, the SERMAS (Servicio Madrileño de Salud of the Madrid Regional Authority) provides IT Services to a 6.3m residents and more than 50,000 professionals. It carried out a four-year data center consolidation project designed for improved the healthcare IT services and a positive ROI by offering centralized services using the Cloud for healthcare in Spain.

It reduced its number of data centers to three sites, one acting as a disaster recovery site, and all connected through a DWDM fiber channel. Its new data center architecture allows it to redirect requests to one or the other data centers depending on quality service parameters.

As part of the project, new x86 servers were installed for a front layer and data base layer and it consolidated and tiered its storage infrastructure.

Its new data centers require 10% less space for servers by virtualizing servers and storage, and the team has been able to significantly reduce the cost of its data center energy consumption, administration and operation and maintenance.

The design has been based on Tier IV electrical and Tier III cooling designs.

Category 7: Innovations in Outsourcing
Winner: UKFast – eCloud

The increasing need for organizations to look more closely at which parts of their IT they need to keep in-house and which parts they can outsource has combined with advances in both facility design and cloud-based technologies to revolutionize outsourcing services. While every organization will have a different opinion based on its own evaluation of the benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing, providers across the outsourcing spectrum have developed new models to meet the growth in demand. This Award seeks to underline the importance of the cluster of services that constitute the outsourcing sector not just in offering space, facility or management options to clients but in advancing outsourcing services through the understanding of market business requirements, their ability to present the best business case for outsourcing and through the development of services that meet the expectations that clients have of outsourcing services.

UKFast says eCloud is the first truly elastic cloud built, designed and hosted in the UK. It brings together best-of-breed technology to offer petabytes of high-availability storage, unlimited scalability thanks to its modular design and complete control over the infrastructure as everything from the hardware to the data center in which it is housed is owned by UKFast.

Hosted in its own data centers built using PODs, UKFast says the Cloud levels the playing field for SMEs and large enterprises by offering this high end hardware without the enterprise-level price tag.

IT offers 24/7 monitoring and support and an online portal called Control With eCloud that allows clients to make infinite changes to their cloud solution with the click of a button.

Every aspect of this cloud has been built in house, by UKFast’s own architects and data center engineers and an R&D team make sure new management tools are being developed to enable superfast scalability and client control.

In the first two months since launching eCloud, the range generated more than £1m in contracted revenue, which has been invested in the building of a fifth data center.

Category 08: The ‘Green’ Data Center
Winner: Green Mountain Data Center

This Award recognizes the reality of designing and operating data centers in the context of environmental scrutiny and celebrates the success of those that have managed to balance their established responsibilities in providing a resilient and responsive facility with the consideration of wider corporate, sustainability and environmental responsibility. Those, in short, who have seen increasing pressures of power costs, regulation, community and environmental responsibility as an opportunity rather than a problem and have demonstrated their vision of sustainability as a critical driver in the design and operation of their data facilities.

The 22,000 sq m Green Mountain Data Centre in an ex NATO bunker offers wholesale colocation from its site at Stavangar, Norway, adjacent to a fjord which is used to provide water cooling using titanium heat exchanges. These draw in water, at 8 degrees Celsius, from 100m down, offering 26,000kW of cooling from 200 to 300kW pumps.

The use of hydropower, provided by three suppliers, means the facility has no carbon emissions. Infrastructure has been designed to use the minimum amount of energy.

The facility also uses an oxygen reduction system for fire protection, eliminating the need for extinguishing gases.

Since opening earlier this year, the data center has attracted key clients from the financial services and IT sector.

Category 09: Improved Data Center Energy Efficiency
Winner: Colt Technology Services – Energy efficiency program to cut European energy use by a fifth

Since it is not possible to manage what isn’t measured, the focus on energy efficiency has gone hand in hand with the evolution of metrics with which to measure such efficiency and its trends within a facility over time. This Award seeks to recognize the journey individual organisations have undergone to bring existing facilities up to scratch through the process of measurement, benchmarking, analysis, recommendation and implementation. Innovation may lie in the development of a measurement model that meets accurately the particular facility needs, the identification of opportunities and/or the introduction of technologies, management techniques and strategies to capitalise on such opportunities.

This year’s winner Colt owns and operates 20 data centers across Europe, delivering high-quality space to customers. Its has committed to reducing energy usage by 18% across its estate as part of a continuous energy efficiency program achieving savings in annual electricity usage of 43GWh and €4m in power costs a year.

The bulk of savings achieved since 2010 have resulted from initiatives within the data hall requiring minimal capital investment. These included enhanced airflow management, more accurate measurement systems and looser bands for cooling air temperature and humidity.

The program spans 30,000 sq m of data center space including three facilities in the UK. Its first project which focussed on data halls accounted for most of the 10% savings Colt achieved Europe-wide during the first 12-months. Over the two following years it increased its energy reduction by 8% by carrying out infrastructure projects, including upgrades for cooling units, chiller equipment and UPS systems. In this time it became evident that new cooling technologies were needed. Working in partnership with Eaton Williams, Colt designed and built a new ground-breaking fresh air cooling unit – which can be found at all of Colt’s new data centers.

Colt demonstrated substantial energy savings can be achieved by targeting efficiencies within individual data halls and across the entire data centre infrastructure, both inside and out.

Category 10: Innovation in IT Optimization
Winner: French Customers and Excise Office (DNSCE) – LE LARI (Low Entropy Linux Redundant Architecture Integration)

Such is the impact of the wide and disparate range of corporate, IT and facility processes covered by IT optimization that it has blown away the legacy view of the data center ‘as simply a facility’ to one based on that of the data center being a critical unit within a dynamic, networked and strategically-driven business critical function. IT optimization may represent any of a number of transformational processes, including systems integration, virtualization, unified computing, asset consolidation and optimization, management automation and a move to cloud-derived on-demand architectures. This Award seeks to recognize and reward true innovation in IT optimization that has enabled organizations to successfully re-define the role that the data center performs within their corporate and IT strategy.

The LE LARI project was originally led by a small team of software developers that needed a private IT architecture for security reasons but had a low budget. The principals they set up allowed for the mutualization of server and storage resources between a high number of JEE services. This concept was then rolled out through the whole Customers Information System, while adapting to middleware in constant evolution.

The end goal was the renovation of the data center through the use of software.

The LE LARI project allowed the team to cut the number of servers they used in half, and to reduce the number of cables in the data center by five times. It also helped to reduce the time it took for application deployment and set predetermined roles with five tiers of architecture, leading to reduced procurement costs. The team also brought in load balancing induced high software coding quality and hardware based security leading to more efficient, steady software.

Overall, the team said they have been able to reduce maintenance costs by 90% and reuse old servers while maximizing fault tolerance.

The most innovative decision the team took was to dedicate loose clusters of servers to specific roles in each LE LARI silo. This made the cohabitation of identical application middleware easy and allowed it to switch servers between layers of the silo and create a virtual environment with eight server silos and network emulated on a vitamined portable computer, which was subsequently lent to contractors to check development and deployment procedures for the target architecture.

Category 11: The Most Extreme Data Center Deployment
Winner: Cannon Technologies Limited – Cannon Globe Trotter

Technological advances in the development of servers and in the equipment that is required to support them have over time created a new breed of data center that are able to sidestep the rules of real estate that apply to larger ‘fixed’ facilities and which can be located or even moved on a more temporary basis to where they are needed. This Award will be given quite simply to the containerised or ‘pod’ data center which best symbolises the flexibility and mobility of this type of data center.

The Cannon Globe Trotter is an ISO-Containerized Data Centre Range designed to support NATO, which deploys these facilities in the desert, tropics, arctic and maritime environments. They require no prior preparation and can be almost instantly operational at their deployment point.

The data centers have full shock attenuation throughout, a geodesic internal structure and come with IT servers, switches, UPSs and power distribution already installed.

They use muti-mode cooling, with an N+1 configuration, and a compact, modular power system, with each PDU module within row.

Prior to this design, ISO-Containerized and other containerized data centers had no shock attenuation.

‘IT’ equipment was shipped separately for installation at the point of use. Re-deployment required de-mounting of ‘IT’ equipment, repackaging, shipping and re-installation.

The range comes with a number of internal layouts, including 1200 aisles, 1000 and 1200 deep racks.

The typical power density is 4kW to 6kW per rack. These containers can even withstand sand storms or snow and rain when joined with an open wall between operating units.

Category 12: Young Mission Critical Engineer of the Year
Winner: Alexander Nock – RED Engineering Design

The future of any industry depends on the quality of the young people it can attract. The relatively low profile of the data center as a career choice combined with increasing local shortages of suitably qualified M&E engineering staff places a premium on attracting new blood into the industry. The winners of this Award to date have both achieved a higher client-facing profile than their tender years would suggest and this year we are looking to maintain the excellent precedent they have set.

Alexander Nock is the head of building physics at UK-based RED Engineering.

He graduated with BEng Electromechanical Engineering and MSc Management Science & Finance and since joining RED four years ago, has worked on a number of data center projects, both new and old. He has helped design facilities using the latest free cooling technology.

He has experience in Future Facilities 6Sigma CFD software and modelling mission critical plant and equipment for data halls and data center plant compounds for a range of international clients.

He regularly presents to a wide range of audiences from the IT and FM support teams, at a bid stage for tender interviews and to key management stake holders including a number of high profile banking and colocation clients and events.

Category 13: Data Center ‘Special Assignement’ Team of the Year
Winner: Bank of New York Mellon – Data Centre Migration Programme Team

What happens inside the data center depends directly or indirectly upon the people charged with design, operation and management and since the data center professional is rarely working in isolation, this places an added premium upon the capability of the data center operator to develop, manage and motivate effective teams to carry the operation forward. This Award seeks to recognize team achievements where the team has been convened for a special purpose or task above and beyond everyday duties.

The winning team comprised of Rob Leggatt, Michal Dorfler and Roger Myers. They migrated 200 business applications used in numerous business areas in five months. The migration impacted many areas of the business, but zero disruption was experienced throughout the project.

The end aim was to transform the bank’s EMEA data center portfolio, carrying out its largest technology transformation to date as part of an 18-month programme involving the build out a new state-of-the-art data center.

The implementation required 17 migration events, each with a unique migration team. Each event consisted of a four- week iterative collaborative cycle with business partners, hosting workshops to agree the steps for the next execution. To track the progress of the concurrent migration events, agile methodology was adopted using daily team scrums. The migration event execution was choreographed through a command centre – a centralized point of control from which the migration management team could operate, and through which all involved parties could communicate – allowing for a rapid response for incident management and control.

The success of the programme was underpinned by a hybrid team structure and the huge importance placed on the collective. The use of a programme team which encompassed external support partners, in house technology teams and business partners ensured that the programme was efficiently able to capture and implement the requirements of the program seamlessly.

Category 14: Data Center Business Leader of the Year
Winner: Franek Sodzawiczny

Originally an engineer from Birmingham - and known to say that the only reason for not building a data center in his home town was a lack of customers - Sodzawiczny was a survivor of the debacle. He started his ‘data center career’ in 1998 as development director for a major player that also survived the crash.  However, his biggest claim to fame is the seven years he spent building up his own major data center and, in 2012, selling that business to Digital Realty Trust.

Clearly a glutton for punishment, he has started a new data center development from scratch as CEO of Zenium.

Category 15: Outstanding Contribution to the Industry
Winner – Emma Fryer, head of climate change, TechUK

This year’s winner may not be an engineer, nor does she have a background in the industry. But her work over the last three years constitutes a major contribution to the continued success of the UK data center industry, and sets a precedent at a global level for how governments deal with the sector.

Through tireless campaigning, navigating the complex and confusing political landscape Fryer has succeeded in doing what many thought impossible. Last Thursday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that a Climate Change Agreement (or CCA) would be put in place for the data center industry. It is down to the tenacity of tonight’s winner that this achievement was made.


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