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How a university's data centre overhaul makes a green impact

Sharon Florentine | Feb. 23, 2015
University of Cambridge's recent data center consolidation aims to reduce the university's carbon footprint as well as centralize resources, management and monitoring.

Hall 4 remains deliberately unallocated, and has not been fully fitted out, UIS says. This will allow for 40 to 50 additional racks as future data center demand increases.

To monitor and manage the infrastructure, Tasker and his team chose Emerson Network Power's Trellis platform. The solution addressed all the major issues facing Tasker and his team: consolidation, efficiency, single-pane monitoring and management, flexibility and scalability.

A Single-Pane Solution
"This will help us drastically improve our ability to do more detailed capacity management and rapidly address capacity issues. In the past, we haven't been able to respond quickly when people get new products or need to install new solutions -- there's nowhere to put it because there hasn't been adequate future capacity planning. Now, we can create and plan better capabilities for more research and development spaces," says Tasker.

The new data center also goes a long way toward meeting the university's goal of cutting its carbon footprint, according to UIS. University carbon emissions are expected to decline by at least 10 percent as a result of the data center consolidation, a significant improvement over current levels, UIS says.

UIS also predicts great improvements in power usage effectiveness (PUE), which is a measure of the ratio of power used by a data center to the power consumed by the actual IT equipment; a perfect PUE would be 1. Major IT players such as Google and Facebook have made significant investments in their data centers, and boast PUEs of 1.11 and 1.06 - 1.08, respectively. When it's fully operational, Cambridge UIS predicts its new data center will deliver an overall PUE of 1.2, half of the January 2013 European average of 2.5.

The Data Center of the Future
The data center is currently undergoing final testing, and new technical staff are being recruited to operate the facility, according to UIS. Over the next few months a phased transition approach will see equipment relocated to the data center, with much of it planned to be operational by year end, UIS says.

The most important thing to remember when undertaking such a massive transformation is to view it as a journey, not just a destination, and to make sure that the vendors you choose are aligned not just with your organization's current needs, but with long-term goals, Tasker says.

"You have to have a solid strategy in place and be able to articulate what you're trying to achieve in the short- and long-term. Don't underestimate how much effort and insight must go into planning and executing your strategy, and work with your vendors to push the limits of technology so you know you're prepared for everything that lies ahead," says Tasker.


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