Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Mega Data Centre and Load Bank Testing

Hillstone CEO Paul Smethurst has written a brilliant piece about the evolution of load bank testing as it relates to the mega data centre.  In his piece, Smethurst breaks down the evolution of the mega data centre and how modern solutions are being developed to handle the needs of what appears to be the future of cloud computing on a grand scale.  Rather than attempting to summarise Smethurst, we offer you portions of his text along with a few comments of our own.  

Smethurst began his piece by identifying the problem at hand:

“The insatiable demand for data and the growth of cloud-based services has changed the European data centre landscape with the arrival of the MEGA DATA CENTRE.”

“The Mega Data centre allows global software giants like Microsoft, Google, and Apple to provide our day to day IT services. The Mega Data centre is also the foundation for colocation providers such as Digital Reality Trust, Equinix, Telecity, and Interxion to facilitate connectivity to the cloud for multi-national conglomerates in banking, oil & gas and telecoms.”

“This rapid expansion of cloud services has created the challenge of how to commission Mega Data centres of 20MW, 40MW, 80MW, and 100MW.”

Indeed, data centres with such immense demands are not only extremely challenging to design and build; they cost a tremendous amount of money. It is imperative that stakeholders get it right if they are to achieve maximum return on investment.

Smethurst continued:

“Fortunately the evolution of the Mega Data centre has taken a practical modular build approach, with roll out phases of dual halls at 2500KW or as a single 5000KW empty white space. Such a reduction in rating does not, however, reduce the challenges of sourcing the quantity of required load banks needed to complete the Integrated System Testing (IST).”

“The primary objective for data hall IST commissioning is to verify the mechanical and electrical systems under full load operating conditions, maintenance and failure scenarios to understanding that the data hall is ready for deployment of active equipment.”

“Today’s IST requires a package of equipment that will closely replicate the data hall when in live operation. Server Simulators load banks, flexible Cable Distribution, Automatic Transfer Switches, data logging for electrical power,  environmental conditions (temperature and humidity) and the ability to incorporating the load banks within temporary hot aisle separation partitions give the foundations for a successful IST. These tools allow the commissioning report to present a CFD model of the actual data hall operation during IST.”

Avoiding Common Mistakes:

Understanding the complex problems of deploying a mega data centre is one thing, coming up with the proper solutions is another.  Smethurst took time to explain some of the common mistakes the industry readily grapples with:

“The restricted choices in the market dilute the availability of load bank choices and equipment. Decisions to select on cost the wrong type of load bank solution can compromise the validity of the IST but the unknown hidden problems will not manifest until the data hall goes live with active IT equipment.

“The temptation to choose 20KW 3 phase industrial space heaters rather than server simulators load banks effects the commissioning of mechanical cooling systems. The design of such heaters, having thermostatic temperature controls, creates lumpy load during the on & off cycling needed to protect the unit from overheating. These heaters prevent the elevation of the data hall ambient room temperature reaching the design criteria needed to commission the CRAC or AUH units. Some suppliers have reported they have removed the thermostatic controls only to find the space heater overheat and in some circumstance have caught fire due to being operated outside the intended product design and operation.”

“The choice of large 110KW load banks can be justified when testing site equipment such as PDU panels, bus bars, or switchboards to Level 3 ASHRAE requirements. These load banks provide a cost effective solution to  proving the electrical infrastructure of the Mega Data centres; however, they will create localised hot spots or areas of concentrated heat should they be used for the commissioning of the cooling systems.”

“In extreme circumstances, it has been observed during Tier certification that the electrical load has been provided by 2KW infra-red heaters or 1KW hair dryers. Infrared heaters create an ambient temperature of >40oC and wall skin temperatures of 70oC. Hair dryers become a fire risk, as they are not designed for continuous operation as required in an IST. This type of low-cost solution should not be considered to replicate the operation of IT equipment and risk costly delays and comprise the integrity of the testing programme.”

Smethurst closed out his piece by talking about some of the solutions his company offers. Since 1989, Hillstone Load Banks have been designing and manufacturing industry leading load banks for companies and organisations around the world.  We encourage you to read Smethurst's full article to fully understand what Hillstone can offer for mega data centre deployment by clicking here.

Paul Smethurst, CEO, Hillstone Loadbanks.

For more information please visit www.hillstone.co.uk email sales@hillstone.co.uk or call Paul Smethurst on +44 (0) 161 763 3100.

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