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Case Studies

Designing and operating a micro-data centre for Bristol City Council

Bristol City Council’s listed Head Quarters won the Innovation in the Micro-Data Centre Award at the 2009 Datacentre Leaders Awards. Most micro-data centres are situated in buildings designed primarily for purposes other than housing IT and this may accentuate the challenges of designing and operating a micro-data centre. Working with Future-tech, Bristol City Council achieved an elegant solution to a tricky problem.

THE BRIEF

The new data centre is housed in the basement of the listed ‘Council House’ in the heart of the City. While not as old as many other listed buildings – it was built between 1938 and 1948, the Council House was never designed to house modern IT equipment. While the project involved re-siting two existing UPSs, it was almost entirely a new-build using a modular room construction. As the room is below ground level, it was essential to ensure there would be no water ingress.

CHALLENGES AND CONSTRAINTS

There were several constraints in the brief that we needed to address, Bristol City Council required a low Power Utilisation Effectiveness (PUE) figure, and to have a low TCO measured over 10 years. Neither the construction nor the operational room could cause any noise problems in the council chamber – and everything we suggested needed to be approved by English Heritage, given the building’s listed status. The project involved a complete strip-out and refurbishment of the existing space and construction of the new modular room with raised access flooring. However, the aspect of the design that first won Bristol City Council and later the award judges’ attention was the air conditioning solution.

 

THE FUTURE-TECH SOLUTION

The air conditioning comprises two water-cooled DX CRAC units which reject heat via a heat exchanger to the ‘Moat’ – an ornamental pond running along the front of the building. Meeting an important ‘green’ requirement for the project, this enables free cooling of the room for the vast majority of the year. There is also a back-up system of dry coolers with the external plant housed in a light well out of sight of anyone viewing the building from ground level.

On day one the deployment in the new room was 12 cabs and a 60kW IT load. The room has enclosed hot aisles designed to run at 30°C (with scope to increase the running temperature to 35°C if required) thus reducing the need for cooling further. The solution is future-proofed and can be expanded to 24 cabs and a 120kW IT load at a future date.

Future-tech delivered a very efficient and now award-winning data centre which has continued to be maintained by our service team.

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GEOFF ENDICOTT, ASSET MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME MANAGER, BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL

“Future-tech had the ability to listen to what we really wanted and provide what we really needed“