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Nottingham University Audit

Nottingham University Audit

AIT Data Centre Audit uncovers 5% power savings, or £5,808 per year, providing payback in less than 3 years and reducing PUE to 1.5

AIT Data Centre Audit uncovers 5% power savings, or £5,808 per year, providing payback in less than 3 years and reducing PUE to 1.5.

The Data Centre Audit generated savings from a hot aisle containment system, reducing air recirculation and improving cooling efficiency within the University’s primary Data Centre.

Challenge.

The University of Nottingham’s state-of-the-art Data Centre opened in 2006. It incorporated the very newest features and industry best-practices at the time including:

  • Hot Aisle/Cold Aisle rack configuration with N+1 air conditioning
  • Fire Cell with IG55 Gas Fire Suppression
  • N+1 room uninterruptible power supply units with standby generator
  • Resilient power and network configuration
  • Remote access KVM, service monitoring, environment monitoring, CCTV and card access control
  • An equipment preparation room outside the production area.

Best practice, however, moves on and the University has continued to review the facility which has resulted in:

  • Individual receptacle power metering in Hosting Area – installed in 2008
  • Free-air-cooling, using conditioned ambient air from outside to cool the servers – installed in 2009
  • Rack based power metering in Production Area – installed in 2011.

In 2010, it was identified that air circulation could be further improved. Air was being delivered to and removed from the equipment space with no physical separation. The result was inefficient airflow and the mixing of the hot server ‘exhaust’ air with cool air from the cold aisle. This was increasing the server inlet temperature and making the cooling system work harder than necessary.

The AIT Partnership Group Ltd designed a containment system for the Data Centre to keep the incoming cool air and the hot ‘exhaust’ air physically separated. Air containment systems are relatively cheap to implement. The design of the room is two rows of racks, back to back sharing a common hot aisle; this is why a hot aisle containment system was utilised to provide the necessary air flow separation between incoming and exhaust air flows.

The hot aisle containment consists of vertical panels fixed to the full height server cabinets on either side, with cupboard doors on the cross aisles and double sliding doors on the end of the hot aisle. The is ducted to the AC units so that the hot ‘exhaust’ air from the server cabinets is captured and efficiently extracted.

As is typical for Data Centres, equipment is continuously updated and moved, often leaving blank spaces in the server racks where old equipment had been removed. Measures were therefore also taken to avoid loss of cool air by fitting blanking plates in these gaps, again to keep the incoming cool air and the hot ‘exhaust’ air physically separated.

Solution.

Result.

After implementing AIT Partnership’s recommendations the University monitored the energy usage in the Data Centre and estimated a saving of 5%, or £5,808 per year. This should provide a return on investment for the project of about 3 years, with the knock on effect of better control of air temperature and improved reliability of the overall Data Centre. The estimated Power Usage Effectiveness ratio has improved from (an already good) 1.8 to approximately 1.5, well above the current industry average of 2.

AIT Partnership Group Ltd provides technical support for businesses and public entities of all sizes. Our range of Data Centre Audits provide best practise recommendations based on our many years of practical experience and technical expertise as well as our EU Code of Conduct for Data Centre accreditation. All audits deliver an actionable report with recommendations to reduce costs and improve reliability and compliance.

An AIT Audit is a very useful tool to support proposals for additional budgets as they can prove the return on investment of Data Centre efficiency projects and demonstrate real savings.

Need a more in-depth look at exactly what we did?

Clients testimonial

Chris Tadman
Data Centres Team Leader, The University of Nottingham
As an organisation, we are constantly striving to improve our energy efficiency and reduce our carbon emissions. I estimate the hot aisle separation system made a 5% saving on our Primary Data Centre energy usage. It helps us to meet the expanding computing requirements of the University whilst reducing our energy bill and Carbon Footprint, both of which are very important targets for the University.

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