Work starts on Australia’s biggest data centres

SYDNEY – Australia’s Digital Sense is developing the country’s highest density data centres with multimillion dollar infrastructure technology to support the growing demand for high-powered computing.

Construction on the first of two data centres has been started in Kenmore, Brisbane, in partnership with Emerson Network Power.

Emerson received an initial order worth $3.2 million for the first phase of the project – a 400 square meter section of the 1,600 square meter data centre.

The Kenmore facility will be the first purpose-built high-density data centre in Australia – 2,000 watts per square meter of floor space. The largest data centres currently in operation top out at less than 1,000 watts per square. Digital Sense is also building a second data centre with Emerson Network Power, code-named Data Centre City, with a total area of 10,000 square meters.

Data Centre City will supersede Kenmore with a staggering capacity of 6,500 watts per square meter to become Australia’s largest high-density facility.

It will also support up to 25 kilowatts of cooling per rack with Emerson’s supplemental cooling technology.

Digital Sense director Michael Tran said high density computing is a reality in today’s highly competitive, information-driven global economy, and demand is outstripping supply for the highest possible performance and security from outsourced data center facilities.

“The problem we face in Australia – and the niche that we’re looking to fill – is the lack of true high-density data centres,” he said.

“We have large and successful facilities in Australia, but none of them are purpose-built to support true high-density computing across every meter of floor space, and that’s where we come in.”

Tran says that demand is particularly strong from large government departments, Australia’s booming mining conglomerates, large corporate operations, Web hosting services and medical industries. “These companies can’t run their operations without top-notch information systems working 24/7 to support millions of customers around Australia and around the world,” he said.

“They’re also bound by strict corporate governance laws, so backup and recovery services – which often means locating equipment in multiple secure sites – are never far from the top of their list.”

Emerson Network Power Australia national product manager Mark Deguara said true high-density facilities pose multiple challenges, not least is the ability to manage and support extreme levels of power and heat that high-density equipment like multicore blade servers consume.

“Australian companies are demanding computer power an order of magnitude more powerful than what they were using only a few years ago – high-density blade servers processing millions of transactions per second to keep them globally competitive,” Deguara said. “At the same time they don’t have the skills, resources or space to house and manage this equipment themselves, so they need to find suitable facilities to host their business-critical systems.

Emerson recently launched a vendor-neutral framework called Energy Logic, designed to minimize power consumption, space and heat rejection in high-density data centres.

The company used feedback from data centre customers at its twice-yearly user group meetings to create the Energy Logic framework, which is a fully holistic approach for reducing data centre energy use. Emerson’s solution for Digital Sense includes aluminium-frame Knurr racks to hold multiple blade servers in place without putting significant added weight on the floor supports or compromising airflow; Liebert UPSs to filter clean power from the grid and to protect the dual power and communication feeds going into each rack; ASCO switches to reliably convert from mains power to generator power in the event of a blackout or routine maintenance without downtime; and the Liebert X-Treme Density (XD) supplemental cooling system to support scalable rack cooling from as little as one kilowatt to more than 25 kilowatts per rack.

Deguara said it is like plug and play cooling. For example, a blade server can be added to an existing rack and the XD cooling system will dynamically adapt to the extra heat rejection by simply plugging in an additional cooling pipe.

Digital Sense conducted extensive research at some of the world’s largest high-density data centres in the United States to get a better understanding of the logistics required to design, build and operate a similar facility in Australia. “We discovered that capacities of 30-to-40 kilowatts per rack would be very feasible in the next two to three years,” Tran said.

“That’s why it’s so important to get the right mix of infrastructure from the start. The more expensive it is to power and cool the equipment, the more expensive the operating costs.

“Making the wrong infrastructure choices at the design stage can potentially cripple a high-density data center in the long run.”

The Kenmore data center will open for business later this year. Data Centre City, still in the planning stages, is expected to come online sometime in 2008.



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