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Designing a Tier III Ready Data Centre


The Uptime Institute describes itself as ‘the Standard bearer for Digital Infrastructure performance’. The organisation’s Tier Standard created more than two decades ago, has been used in data centre design, construction and operations across the world and is the globally recognized standard for data centre reliability and overall performance.

To gain classification, data centre topology and operational sustainability are assessed as performance criteria. Final certification confirms that the infrastructure has no weak areas and the approved data centre has worldwide accountability for excellence. The process is necessarily detailed and can typically take up to three years to achieve.

A datacentre will normally apply for certification once the relevant infrastructure is in place. However, if the criteria are not properly met, approval will not be granted. Any remedial works required to resolve the issues identified can be both time-consuming and costly to rectify.

For this reason, the team at Cannon Technologies working in conjunction with several OEM manufacturers, have recently developed a Tier III ready data centre by making a pre-certified set of solutions available. Over the past year, the team at Centiel has been working closely with Cannon Technologies to help with the design and implementation of modular UPS technology for the Tier III ready data centre design, which has now been fully approved by the Uptime Institute.

Cannon Technologies Mark Awdas, Engineering Director: “There has been an increase in the demand for certified Tier III datacentres. Therefore, it made sense to work with our portfolio of trusted partners to develop a pre-certified set of solutions, ready to take to market.

“The result is that any organisation now looking to implement a Tier III data centre can purchase a pre-approved design and all the equipment for what is essentially a fixed price. We just need to re-assess the figures for the environmental element depending on the location of the installation. Purchasing a pre-approved Tier III data centre in this way, can save time and reduce the overall build cost, while maximising convenience. Customers can push forwards with confidence, safe in the knowledge the configuration is already certified.”

Awdas continues: “We have completed several projects with Centiel including most recently the installation of a Tier II containerised solution. It’s always been a great experience working with the team. Centiel’s UPS CumulusPower and the technical support provided is outstanding. The technology offers the highes levels of resilience, is flexible, robust and it has been tried and tested in many scenarios. Therefore, we were confident we could offer the high quality solution necessary for the Tier III data centre by working with Centiel.”

It has taken a significant amount of work and around 12 months in total to complete and gain approval of the whole project from the Uptime Institute. From Centiel’s point of view, Cannon Technologies gave us the performance specification in terms of power requirements, autonomy, foot print and the arrangement in a schematic. We needed to demonstrate how we integrate with switch gear, cabling and ensure correct discrimination. We then sized and arranged our UPS physically within the layout and this was included in the system design that was presented to the Uptime Institute.

Often within installations, space is at a premium, so consideration was given to reducing the footprint meaning it can be containerised if required. CumulusPower with its front-access was important for the overall design, opening up opportunities for a variety of users from datacentres to medical facilities to organisations requiring smaller edge solutions.

Our interpretation needed revising and refining to match the required classification, we worked closely with Tony Abnett, lead electrical engineer at Cannon Technologies to agree that the configuration resolved any potential challenges. It was far more than a box ticking exercise. The process was intense and involved a joined up approach with Cannon Technologies and the Uptime Institute to ensure all the rules were adhered to and a consensus of understanding was reached.

For the first 100kW data centre solution, it was determined that the UPS configuration had to meet a 2N design. The extensive range of CumulusPower frame sizes meant that 100kW could be achieved in a small footprint by scaling 25kW modules to achieve capacity in each system.

In addition to the 100kW solution, which is most suitable for edge deployments, Cannon Technologies is currently working to develop and gain Tier III certification for additional configurations which address the demand for larger data centres. Certified solutions of 250kW, 500kW and 1MW are anticipated in 2021.

The UPS is only a small element of the whole approved Tier III data centre which has been created. Cannon Technologies has also worked with other partners to provide a complete data centre solution, that includes generators, switch gear, cooling and cabling so the entire design can be offered as an approved solution. We were involved in various points in the process to identify how the UPS could impact on the rest of the solution, even as far as environmental controls.

The team from Cannon Technologies has spent many years designing and building data centres. It was a privilege to be able to work with such experienced people who were hands on throughout and the result is impressive.

Awdas continues: “As a company, our aim is to understand the needs of our customers and deliver the most appropriate solution. Because the elements of the Tier III approved design are benchmarked, it is now quick and easy to present a solution to customers that can be scaled up or down depending on requirements.

“The rapid accumulation of data and processing of critical information continues to drive the expansion of our industry. Our goal is to offer the most convenient solutions tailored to the needs of our valued client base. An agile approach and willingness to adapt from all our partners has been the hallmark of success in gaining this important Tier III certification. The development of the certified Tier III data centre now offers a rapid and convenient answer to implementing a fully inclusive, certified solution.”

By Louis McGarry, Sales and Marketing Director, CENTIEL UK Ltd

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