Keeping cool on the trading floor
InterGen is a global power generation firm operating twelve power plants, located in the UK, The Netherlands, Mexico, the Philippines and Australia. In the UK InterGen operates three natural gas-fired power stations in Essex, Lincolnshire and Cheshire totalling 2400MW, equivalent to the needs of 3 million homes. InterGen’s UK headquarters are in Edinburgh where power and gas is traded up to three years ahead of delivery, alongside real time market transactions. InterGen is completely reliant on a robust 24 hour commercial environment and unplanned downtime could cost the firm millions of pounds a day.
RMD has worked with InterGen for over eight years supplying, installing and maintaining power and cooling to its data centres in the UK and Europe.
In 2006 the power and cooling specialist undertook its biggest project yet for InterGen, supporting the refurbishment of its Edinburgh data centre due to rapid business growth.
Located on Edinburgh’s prestigious George Street, shoulder to shoulder with designer shops and blue chip corporates, InterGen faced complex planning hurdles as well as the logistical and technical challenges of installing a state of the art data centre on the top floor of a beautiful Georgian building.
To support InterGen’s business needs and high data processing requirements, a large number of diverse IT systems are required, and thus has an unusually high server to user ratio. To support this infrastructure, InterGen began migration to high density blade and storage technologies making a robust power and cooling strategy critical. These technologies are being leveraged further with the introduction of virtualisation techniques with the goal of maintaining current hardware, power and cooling levels.
Paramount to the success of the whole project was the integrity of InterGen’s 24 hour trading and operations environment. RMD developed a detailed project plan alongside InterGen and meticulously executed it, to ensure business continuity during the works.
It was clear that the existing data centre in Edinburgh could not physically or technically support InterGen’s growing infrastructure. Around eight tonnes of equipment (14 racks) would be needed and that meant taking all of the existing kit out of the room and temporarily relocating it while the new floor was laid and ‘dirty works’ carried out.
InterGen’s IT Manager negotiated periods of down time with the traders to allow the work to be carried out while not jeopardising business critical operations. In a city centre office, space is a premium and RMD designed a floor plan that made optimum use of the space available and allowed for future growth.
Over a period of five years RMD has upgraded four InterGen sites in the UK and Europe with new UPS’s to secure the power supply at each location while increasing capacity, run-time and floor space. As part of the project to refurbish the Edinburgh data centre, RMD upgraded the UPS from an APC Symmetra Power Array 16 KVA to a Symmetra PX 40KW.
A fully integrated cooling system to meet the demands of high density blade servers and storage was needed. And RMD installed a fully integrated, tailored system to meet the cooling demands in the tight space which was available.
A standard fire suppression solution would involve sealing the entire room. This was not practical for InterGen’s site and would have been prohibitively expensive. And so RMD came up with a solution to install a highly sensitive ‘sniffer’ system that draws air from the racks to a sensor above, effectively warning of potential fire hazards.
Success of the project was always going to be measured by its impact on InterGen’s core business. RMD project managed the entire works, meaning InterGen did not have to approach different vendors, down time was kept to a minimum and disruption to the business avoided.
Moving to a blade environment has made things much more efficient and easier allowing InterGen to deploy a 2008 server in just 20 minutes whereas previously it could take up to a day. Being in a city centre location means InterGen cannot run a generator and so it is totally reliant on the UPS. To date the UPS installed by RMD has been called into action on several occasion due to local power interruptions, and has kept InterGen trading 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
IT representative Ian Spooner explains: “We have a really good relationship with RMD engineers; they know our sites and they understand our business which means they help us avoid down time. Their careful planning ensures their projects run seamlessly. We know they will deliver and that is why they remain a trusted partner.”
RMD is an independent specialist in integrated power and cooling solutions. From small server rooms to cutting edge data centres, RMD is one of the few UK companies that can design, supply, install and maintain power and cooling.
With two decades experience in power and cooling, RMD’s roots stretch back to 1932 when R M Donaldson opened a wholesale electrical shop in Glasgow. Today RMD continues to innovate in the public and private sector, for global brands as well as the SME.