Leading UK Internet Infrastructure and Web Delivery specialist M247 has aroused the interest of engineers from the prestigious Cambridge University.
David Green, from the University’s Department of Engineering, visited the company’s Manchester datacentre and head office recently to have a look at the innovations used to build M247’s renowned climate control system which helps keeps its burgeoning datafloor operating efficiently while at the same time significantly lowering M247’s carbon footprint and reducing the bottom line of its annual power spend. Since David is involved in the update of the Engineering Department’s computer room cooling as part of the University’s Carbon and Energy Reduction Project, its anticipated that the exchange of ideas will cement a relationship from which M247 and Cambridge University will both benefit.
With its original datacentre already close to full capacity in Manchester and another one in Kidderminster in the West Midlands also full, M247 is in the process of opening its third UK datacentre right next door to its head office and is targeting a PuE of just 1.15 (Power Use Effectiveness, the standard by which datacentre energy efficiency is measured all over the world). Quite an aim considering that the firm already has an enviably green track record on energy efficiency with their main datacentre measuring just 1.18 PuE as ratified by the Green Grid. It’s this remarkably low level of energy usage that’s motivated the Cambridge University engineers to come and have a look at what can be achieved with EcoCooling technology.
By now, it’s well known that the datacentre industry consumes huge amounts of power to keep their servers and related hardware operational and a large proportion of this power is used to maintain optimal climatic conditions within the data floors. This is required so that the I.T. hardware runs as efficiently as possible. Various solutions are available but M247 is utilising a “cold aisle” system taking advantage of adiabatic air exchange cooling technology. The cold aisle contains and directs a minimum volume of cold air, which is expensive to produce, and allows M247 to micro manage the enclosed server aisle both in relation to its optimal temperature and its relative humidity. A by-product of the sophisticated system set up by M247 is that the circulating cold air is also highly filtered, stripping it of any damaging particulates that could shorten the operational life of the valuable hardware. Even better, the exhaust air has a further use in that it heats up M247’s office space, removing their need for a secondary heating system during the winter months. Extraction fans fitted in the ceiling of the office space helps keep it cool throughout the summer.
To ensure that power is always available, even in the event of a regional outage, M247 has installed a number of large backup generators that automatically start up if the normal power supply is interrupted. Here again M247 has found a way of lowering its carbon footprint by supplying power from these generators to the National Grid whenever demand is high and it becomes cost-effective to do so. This arrangement also ensures that the generators don’t remain idle for long periods and are tested regularly. Other datacentres have experienced power problems when their generators failed to kick in when needed.
While some companies are content to plant trees to offset their carbon footprint, green credentials haven’t come that easily to M247 as they are constantly striving to maintain their low ratings in a real sense. They’ve even developed their own web-based control and monitoring software which can regulated from anywhere with a web connection, even a smart phone.
Managing Director of M247 David Buckle says “when we decided to make our datacentre as efficient as possible we had no model to follow. We felt like pioneers and had to design our own climate control system from scratch and have learnt such a lot from this process. Our plan with the new datacentre next door is to try to improve even more on what we’ve achieved so far.”
Cambridge University’s David Green said “It’s been an interesting and worthwhile visit to M247 and good so see the roll out of technology that is also being used in the Engineering Department. M247 are so far advanced with their designs and thinking I feel I have seen many things that will benefit our own efforts to minimise energy usage and we’ve all agreed today to maintain contact and share our advances in this technology.”
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