Posted on 19 October 2016

Multichoice has built a new 500 m2 data centre at their premises in Randburg, which is provided with a high reliability electricity supply system and an energy efficient cooling system.

Multichoice required a data center solution that could meet it’s growing IT requirements. Data centres are becoming stressed by increased capacity requirements and the higher density of IT equipment, consolidation and virtualisation.

The technical manager, Robert Pretorius, was provided with a brief to build a new data centre capable of handling a 640 kVA load, and which would enable all the small server rooms on the Multichoice campus to be consolidated in one centre. The requirement was to ensure the data centre uptime, reliability, availability and scalability, while at the same time reducing operational costs, such as very high cooling costs, provide a means of monitoring and reporting on efficiency, and create a more carbon friendly foorprint for the new data center.

The customers requirement was for a minimum “tier 4” type solution with all services having redundancy. Tier 4 is the highest level of infrastructure reliability for data centers, defined by the Uptime Institute, which has become an accepted standard in the IT industry. Tier 4 is defined as a “fault tolerant infrastructure”, and requires redundant infrastructure as well as the provision for concurrent maintenance of equipment. The infrastructure must provide multiple independent physically isolated systems that provide redundant capacity components, and multiple distribution paths simultaneously serving the computer equipment. The infrastructure needs to be configured so that full power and cooling capacity is available even in the event of a single component failure.

The A stream of the installation consists of a 1 MVA transformer, 1,25 MVA diesel generators with 12 h run time in standby configuration feeding an emergency panel and UPS panel. The emergency panel feeds the chiller plants on the roof, and lighting and cooling units in the data center. The UPS panel feeds 4 x 200 kVA UPSs connected in a parallel N+1 configuration which supply power to all the equipment in the centre. The B stream is a duplicate of the A stream.

The IT equipment racks are designed for dual power feeds coming from separate A and B stream distribution units. The distribution units have the latest software technology that manages the power to the IT cabinets. Alarms and early warnings can be sent to the data centre operator to allow ongoing management of the centre status.

Effective cooling of the centre was going to be a challenging issue with modern high power consuming servers, storage and network equipment, driving up power densities in server rooms to levels that can not be handled by conventional room cooling. The solution was to use the lastest technology in predictable cooling , which uses in-row cooling with free cooling chiller plants. The scalable and modular architecture allowed the high power density areas of the data centre to be placed in a hot aisle containment system. Sealing the hot aisle off from the rest of the room ensured that the hot air could not mix with the supply air. The cluster of high power density racks can be separately environmentally controlled decreasing the amount of energy the system uses.

The present configuration of the data center comprises 50 racks with a total load of 330 kW, with the majority of the racks rated at 7,2 kW with a very high power density POD where the racks are rated at 11 kW.