Home' Facility Perspectives : Vol 11 No 4 Contents 22
FACILITY PERSPECTIVES | VOLUME 11 NUMBER 4
| DATA CENTRES
and helps to lower the PUE. An FM has
no control over IT power and, as such, the
management of all the back-of-house power
must be considered, from simple WC lighting
to cooling plant energy management.
FP: Are there any new or upcoming
technologies that can assist with the running of
MT: Data centre infrastructure management
(DCIM) platforms can assist, which are an
evolving suite of software tools for managing
data centre infrastructure, from critical plant in
the ‘grey space’ down to the ICT components
inside racks in the ‘white space’.
MS: Uninterruptable power supplies (UPS)
cause the most failures within data centres, so
the emergence of converged power systems
(CPS) to provide more reliable power to the
data hall is exciting. The system mainly consists
of inverters, rectifiers, batteries and controls
as per a UPS, but the major advantage is
that a CPS design negates the need for an
automatic transfer switch (ATS), avoiding a
major potential risk caused by ATS transition.
Generally, the CPS can transfer to and from the
MW: With the focus on achieving the PUE
holy grail of one, there are always new players
entering the market as designers, operators
Recently, we have seen a surge in the
number of ‘off-the-grid’ data centres coming
to market, which are employing many of the
renewable energy techniques to minimise
both the impact that they have on the
environment, as well as being the masters of
their own destiny when it comes to ensuring
that they have enough energy that is tolerant
to outages in supply.
FP: Can you give us some examples or case
studies of data centres that are working in new
or innovative ways?
MW: We have recently seen the Advanced
Energy Lab from Microsoft, which is an
experiment that uses fuel-cell technology
to reduce the inefficiency of the energy use
across the data centre. In addition to this, there
are numerous data centres using renewable
technologies such as solar, tri-gen and free
cooling to greatly reduce both the impact to the
environment and burden of the electricity grids.
SP: Indirect evaporative cooling (IEC) is
a trend in innovative cooling with potential
lower annualised PUE. It has been as low as
1.2 in Singapore by expanding the operating
envelope on the psychometric chart.
Vertiv (Emerson) DSE system uses pumped
refrigerant with economiser circuit for
annualised PUE of 1.15 to 1.2.
The Facebook Open Compute solution of no
UPS, but each server having small lithium-ion
batteries (LIB) to ride through the transfer from
utility to generator during a failure.
FP: How is security managed in data
centres? What is involved?
MT: Some key elements include:
3 supervision of subcontractors working in
the grey space
3 supervision of subcontractors building
out additional infrastructure in the white
3 supervision of clients accessing their ICT
3 front-of-house – managing all people’s
comings and goings
3 CCTV coverage of the facility (external and
3 two-factor authentication (card and retina,
or card and fingerprint)
3 regular patrols.
MW: These are highly controlled
environments that have been engineered to
operate through failures without impacting on
the operation of the computer systems held
Thus, one of the biggest risks to the
operation of the facility is actually people – it
is commonly stated throughout the industry
that one of the most common reasons for
an unplanned outage within a data centre is
because of ‘human error’.
With the above in mind, and the fact
that large portions of the data held within
the computer systems are housed in
them, data centres place a huge focus on
only allowing suitably vetted personnel
to work within the facilities, with anyone
else either being closely escorted during
their time within the sites or not permitted
access in the first place.
It is now becoming uncommon for data
centres not to have a 24/7 coverage of security
guards with high-level security systems in
support of a 24/7 on-site FM/engineering
team to ensure that the site remains safe,
secure and on at all times.
SP: It’s like Fort Knox – even the early
site. Older data centres are discrete, with no
external plaques or signage to identify them.
With new security technology, there are
multiple levels of security requirements for
screening personnel before one can get to
a server – front door, entry, corridor entry,
data hall entry, data cage entry and even rack
level door access.
Security ranges from the standard swipe
card to fingerprint and retina scans.
One of the biggest risks to the operation of
the facility is actually people – it is commonly
stated throughout the industry that one of the
most common reasons for an unplanned outage
within a data centre is because of ‘human error’
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