Protecting critical systems at the heart of UK’s cyber security hub

Shield House will feature three new data halls with a total IT load of 1.5 MVA

One of the most resilient and connected data centres in the UK is being constructed in Gloucester, by Indectron. Louise Frampton speaks to Sudlows’ Zac Potts to discover how Shield House will deliver maximum efficiency and uptime 

Following a competitive tender, Sudlows was appointed to design and build the new 3MW power capacity data centre in Gloucester.

The centre will be used as a protected environment for data and critical systems connected with a wide range of networks and cloud service providers.

Indectron’s Shield House (GCR1) is positioned directly on the UK’s arterial fibre routes in an area that is fast developing into the cyber-security hub of the UK. When complete, it will house three new data halls with a total IT load of 1.5 MVA, and will be capable of supporting high IT power densities and a variety of IT rack and cooling configurations.

The facility is designed to meet high resiliency applications, operating on an N+N power topology and incorporating a fully maintainable design without impact to operation.

Certification to BS EN 50600 will be sought post completion with a target Class 3 installation.

Efficiency has been at the heart of the design process and equipment has been selected based on its ability to provide not only the highest level of reliability and resilience, but to do this with the minimum energy consumption.

Modularity has been employed throughout the design to ensure that the main infrastructure is able to operate at optimum efficiencies from part load through to full capacity.

“Indectron has set out a high specification. While they are experienced data centre providers, this is their first data centre build project and they have undertaken a lot of detailed research into exactly what they want to offer the market; modularity has been identified as important (so they can grow the facility with the load), as well as green credentials,” explains Sudlows’ Zac Potts.

Indectron’s aim is to get PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) below 1.2; high on the agenda is the need to maximise efficiency for power and cooling, therefore.

Energy efficient cooling

The cooling systems employed are sized and designed for operation during the highest peak weather conditions for the region but incorporate the ability for full free cooling during the cooler months to enhance the efficiency of the facility.

Every aspect of the mechanical systems incorporates an element of variable or modulating operation that, along with state-of-the-art controls, allows the cooling systems to match cooling to demand at an unparalleled level which further enhances the ability of the system to operate under partial free cooling during a significant proportion of the year.

The system is designed with redundancy and resiliency in mind and, at the most granular level, free cooling and traditional DX circuits have been separated entirely ensuring that individual critical circuits have the highest possible uptime.

Combined with the ability of the system as a whole to tolerate a number of failures without affecting the critical space, the cooling system is one of the most resilient designs available.

“One of the benefits is that, during cold weather, the system produces most of the cooling for the data centre from ambient air. It is an indirect system, so no ouside air is brought into the data centre hall,” Potts explains. He adds that the compressors, fans and controls for the system are all designed around the latest EC technology.

“This enables the system to run the exact amount of free cooling and the exact amount of refrigeration required for the bulk of the year, when the system is in a partial free cooling mode. The combination of variable speed systems and the controls allow the cooling system to operate at industry leading efficiencies,” Potts continues. This is achieved without adding additional complexity, he explains.

Power: security and efficiency

The whole facility has a high availability N+N power system complete with dual incoming HV feeds, each with a dedicated RMU and Transformer, and ultimately supported by two HV Primaries to provide one of the highest levels of power security.

In addition to this, the facility benefits from full onsite standby power generation with fuel reserves and delivery management capable of supporting the facility indefinitely. Upstream power to the critical IT systems is protected on both paths by dedicated IT UPS systems.

“The data halls will be populated over time, so it made sense to look at modular power solutions. Initially, we looked at using a number of larger UPSs, in the region of 600 KVA units, but after careful consideration we decided to specify modular units from Huawei,” comments Potts.

Each individual module is 100KVA and can be scaled up as the load grows, which ensures the UPSs operate at peak efficiency throughout the life of the facility. This is achieved without compromising either resilience or maximum capacity.

Connectivity to the site is designed to the same high level of resiliency, with multiple carriers available on site, with dual redundant and diverse incoming network routes, and dual redundant on site ‘meet-me’ communications rooms.

“We have put a lot of time and effort into evaluating a variety of technologies, assessing around 10 different combinations of cooling and five to six different UPS systems. As data centre designers, we go the extra mile when it comes to investigating suppliers’ technologies to ensure they are the optimum solutions for the client, but we also have significant experience of installation and can provide on-going maintenance services. This means that we can provide effective coordination from the start of the project, right the way through the installation and beyond,” says Potts.

“At the end of the project, it is our hope to offer planned/preventive maintenance for the site [subject to tender], for the cooling, generator and UPS systems. It makes sense to have a company that has specific experience of data centres to look after the facility, so they can be appropriately responsive.

“Sudlows will be able to have someone on site in just a few hours to quickly resolve any problems and can also offer remote monitoring if required. Having quick access to someone who really knows the installation is invaluable.”


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