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How cooling power technology helped a NZ data centre business slash their power bills

Going green: how cooling power technology helped a NZ data centre business slash their power bills by a third, not to mention reducing their carbon footprint

Reducing the CO2 footprint is a business requirement for most organisations, but for a data centre provider it is paramount. Today, data centres account for around three per cent of global electricity supply and two per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions1. That gives it the same carbon footprint as the airline industry.

New Zealand’s leading mission critical cooling solutions company, STULZ, knows only too well that data centres require a tremendous amount of energy. They are pioneering a more sustainable future with many of New Zealand’s data centre providers. One such provider is Data Vault.

The challenge

Data Vault owns two purpose-built data centres in Auckland and Hamilton which offer secure, controlled rack space and telehousing options. The Auckland data centre infrastructure was 15 years old, expensive and inefficient to run, as well as being noisy for its customers. With its growing customer base and recent 30 percent increase in IT load, Data Vault decided to embark on a project to replace the existing cooling equipment with quieter, more resilient and energy efficient alternatives.

The solution

STULZ proposed an audit and optimisation approach using their EMOS (Environmental Monitoring and Optimisation) tool.

STULZ New Zealand General Manager, Mark Langford, says: “Before replacing the existing equipment, we wanted to better understand the environment, so we completed a full assessment over several weeks to generate detailed operational and environmental trends. Having granular data allowed us to better appreciate the inefficiencies within the existing units, as well as inherent challenges in the design and layout of the room. We found with the current layout, the data centre was chewing up more power than it needed to.”

The process involved deploying and distributing non-intrusive, sophisticated wireless sensors to comprehensively record in real time key environmental conditions. The sensors record the CRAC (computer room air conditioning) return and supply air temperature and humidity, the rack intake and exhaust temperature and humidity, the raised floor differential pressure as well as the conditions at the BMS SLA (Service Level Agreement) sensors.

Once installation of the sensors was completed the conditions were recorded to form the historical “baseline”. This provided an opportunity to examine the characteristics and behaviour of the servers at different times, to determine whether the heat load is static or dynamic and the environmental conditions supporting the equipment.

Mark continues: “After we completed the first stage of the audit, we then knew we needed to upgrade all four of the units whilst at the same time minimising any disruption to the data centre – no mean feat. Using the data from our audit we knew when the most opportune time would be to replace each unit and the impact this would have to the live site. We then removed and replaced each unit one unit at a time over a course of week.”

The results

Within the first six weeks, Data Vault reported a 20 per cent reduction in total power. This increased to an average of 30% reduction in power usage 12 weeks in to the project. Moreover, Data Vault has seen other huge improvements to the facility as a result of the new HVAC system. ​There has been a reduction in noise inside the facility, and their PUE has improved from 1.67 to 1.24 resulting in a reduction of their carbon footprint by more than 30 tons per annum.

Once the final phase of the project has been completed, Data Vault anticipates that this location will operate at 20% more efficiently than the industry average.

Peter White, General Manager at Data Vault, says: “Overhauling your data centre infrastructure is an important business decision from both an energy efficiency and cost perspective, in addition to the potential downtime and disruption to business operations. STULZ’s monitoring and methodical approach enabled us to have full sight over the operational inefficiencies, and ensured the process was completed without a hitch.

“We’re thrilled with the savings so far. If the data centre continues to follow its current energy saving trajectory the project will be cost neutral within five years, not to mention improving and prolonging the reliability and life cycle of the infrastructure and making an important dent in our carbon footprint. Moreover, we’ve brought on a raft of new clients who are comforted by the reliability and security of the STULZ brand.”

The success of this project has spurred Data Vault to expand its business and open a further data centre in 2020.