Saving environment by saving power in computing

Data Centre Facilities Upgrade Project

Nathan Data Centre and the Gold Coast Telecommunication Equipment Room went through a makeover as part of last year’s data centre facilities upgrade project.

The data centre team worked in collaboration with the Campus Life Planning, Design & Construction team, taking nearly 12-months in the design phase to make sure all requirements, regulations and compliance were considered. External builders and contractors were engaged under a traditional build contract, meaning that much of the responsibility for ensuring the design was correct rested on INS and Campus Life.

Image of data centre

Inside the data centre

Key objectives in the design ensured that the limited floor space was optimised, that the data centre was not unduly impacted by the work (there were no shutdowns), and that the ventilation/air conditioning systems were completely refreshed to maximise the best use of newer, more energy efficient ‘CRACS’ (Computer Room Air Conditioners). Just to spice things up a little, the project was jointly funded with CLF to deliver, after years of deliberation, fire suppression and adequate fire rated walls to both data centres.

Environmental monitoring, including air conditioning systems with cold isle containment, was installed. Cool air distribution and CRAC duty cycling is monitored and optimised to maximise energy efficiency. As a result Nathan Data Centre PUE (Power Utilisation Efficiency) index reduced from 2.3 to 1.8. PUE is calculated by dividing total power usage for a facility by IT equipment load.

So: PUE = Total KW / IT Load KW

This improvement equates to a DCiE (Data Centre infrastructure Efficiency) moving up from 45.5% to 55.6%. Based on current tariffs, that is a saving for the University in excess of $50,000 per year.

Generally if we can use less power to manage environmental factors like heat and humidity in the Data Centre, we can be more efficient. If we can manage efficiency of IT equipment load, it has even more effect as every for KW used in IT load, it will take another 0.8 kW to manage environment.

With the high virtualisation efforts achieved (Server virtualisation around 85%) and server and storage consolidations our PUE index is already high as compared to other organisations that have lower level of virtualisation. While PUE it is a great measure to compare before and after results for a specific facility, PUE is not a useful measure to compare different facilities.


Image of ICT team

Matthew Wren, Laurence Rietberg, Sudath Wijeratne, Glenn McNicol.

This project was jointly project managed by Gary Schultz (INS) and Sean Power (Campus Life).

Sudath Wijeratne (Manager, ICT continuity Services)


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