Project Profile: Power Management at ROOT Data Center

Credit: Data Center
Eaton UPS and remote power panels installation at Root Data Center in Montreal, Canada

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the May 2016 issue of Business Energy.

ROOT Data Center is a recently constructed Tier 3, carrier-neutral, 500-server rack colocation provider in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As Montreal’s first data center provider to deploy a next-generation cooling technology, ROOT is able to offer colocation for a 30 to 70% lower cost than other providers.

Power protection is paramount for such operations. CEO Jason van Gaal selected an uninterruptible power system (UPS) and related power equipment from Eaton based on previous positive experience and the company’s new technologies.

Eaton offers end-to-end power management solutions that include UPS, switchgear, PDUs, heat containment systems and software management systems that are used everywhere from the utility to a single facility.

ROOT required a UPS offering double-conversion online technology and—given the nature of its business—exceptional and rapid service from the manufacturer. The company also required a highly efficient unit with a small footprint that would not occupy a lot of valuable real estate on the data center floor.

ROOT also needed a UPS capable of operating within a 415/240-V environ­ment for efficiencies and cost savings to customers.

Eaton met the criteria with its Power Xpert 9395 UPS and Remote Power Panels (RPPs).

The 9395 can be configured so its uninterruptible power modules (UPMs) automatically act as N+1 redundant systems to bolster reliability in contrast to the traditional approach of adding a second UPS.

Also, the 9395’s dual-conversion design completely isolates output power from all input power anomalies and delivers 100% conditioned, pure sine wave output—regulating both voltage and frequency.

In addition to maximizing uptime, the 9395 operates at up to 99% efficiency using Eaton’s Energy Saver System (ESS), which is designed to deliver savings of up to 15 percentage points in efficiency over traditional models in the typical operating range.

The technology is part of Eaton’s Energy Advantage Architecture, providing capabilities for IT and facility managers to maximize UPS performance. “When aggressively targeting high efficiency in a colocation facility, you need advanced power distribution and management solutions that can adapt to customer needs,” points out van Gaal. “It’s great to have double-conversion, online technology with upwards of 98% efficiency.”

The 9395’s design also stood out for van Gaal as it enabled his company to eliminate transformers, improve efficiency, and save about 5% on the total cost of the facility’s construction, while increasing overall efficiency by about another 3%.”

The unit’s multi-module, scalable architecture enables data centers to adapt to future changes in load demands and new requirements for high reliability without needing to purchase an additional unit. “With this unit, we won’t get stranded for capacity,” notes van Gaal.

ROOT complemented the 9395 with high-efficiency Eaton RPPs, which provide high power density in a choice of two cabinet sizes.

The small footprint of the standard RPP is considered ideal for space-cramped facilities or an end-of-row distribution solution and has a high kAIC rating. The rack-style RPP is designed for seamless integration into data center white space by matching standard IT rack dimensions and enabling easy installation with improved wiring and service space.

Eaton’s RPP power distribution solutions are designed to deliver 30 kW of power to each rack within ROOT’s facility. The Eaton configuration is engineered to help reduce power distribution costs by more than 20% and improve data center efficiency by as much as 10% over other local colocation providers, according to van Gaal.

ROOT relies on Eaton’s Power Xpert Gateway PDP Card that ties into the company’s Open-Source software. “I like that the SNMP output function can monitor everything on our central monitoring system,” says van Gaal.

ROOT Data Center also has found value in Eaton’s local corrective and preventive maintenance service offering, which helps ensure that its mission-critical equipment remains running at all times and assists in maximizing reliability and scalability to meet customer needs.

At his previous company, an Eaton technician had to arrive within two hours to make a repair, van Gaal notes. He now appreciates Eaton’s quick product turnaround and delivery time because he doesn’t know when a customer is going to deploy or expand operations. He envisions ordering up to 30 RPPs for the data center. Such inventory standardization and scalability is important, he adds.

Given the strong demand for space in its new facility, ROOT may be establishing a second. The rapid growth is due in part to the peace of mind offered by the Eaton systems, van Gaal notes.

Eaton’s installation at ROOT represents a response to a wider need in power security and management, points out Philip Fischer, Eaton’s global data center segment manager. “In terms of their data center and what is supported within it—the IT equipment, the telecomm equipment, remote access, the storage equipment—this is essentially the backbone of the enterprise now,” he says.

“The data center is no longer a sunk cost—not something they can afford to be a burden on the business. They need it to be a strategic asset and make it a competitive advantage.”

Mission-critical facilities need power backup and UPS systems that are “highly efficient, highly reliable, and something that is agile because of the changes that are going to occur in the IT equipment, and the effect on the data center is very uncertain both short term, never mind long term, within the data center,” he adds.

In choosing the appropriate system for an application, it’s critical to look at maintaining higher reliability at a lower total cost of ownership in terms of capital and operating expenses, says Fischer.

“You want to be able to have it flexible and do it in a manner that makes electricity more safe in the data center environment,” he says. “It’s not just one piece. Different systems need to be taken into account. The power quality system needs to take into account some of the operation of the downstream equipment. It might be the power distribution, the racks, the software management, and the cooling systems, as well as what’s upstream.”

Additionally, a system needs to be able to be integrated with alternative energy sources such as generators, Fischer says. Eaton’s approach transcends the product to the knowledge needed to maximize it, he adds.

Maximizing the system depends on proper maintenance. “When you look at your operation’s efficiency, you’re looking at the products and the people, but you’re also looking at having maintenance that is not necessarily reactive, but moving towards something that is proactive and predictive in nature,” says Fischer.

“You need to be able to build a plan in terms of how you want to enhance your reliability while also doing it cost-effectively,” he adds. “Are there ways you can predict problems before they occur? Having a proper maintenance schedule and something that constantly monitors and predicts is going to be far better than scrambling and hoping your so-called redundant or backup systems when they are called into action can be fixed quickly.”

The nature and purpose of backup power has changed over the years. “When you thought of data centers in the past, it was all about how to avoid some sort of incident, whether it’s a power fault or some sort of anomaly,” says Fischer. “Today, people are looking at how they can maximize that facility in terms of its operation. People are looking at continuity not just from the infrastructure standpoint, but also from the actual technology standpoint.”

There is more of a holistic approach now that takes into account energy storage, says Fischer. “What sort of continuity can you have in terms of battery storage, and chemical storage? How can you bring in renewable energy? How can you do microgridding where you’re separated either by choice of some sort of conditions from the actual utility grid and still maintain the reliability and availability that is required?” he points out.

Facility owners and operators are considering what they need to do to “take control of their building’s destiny instead of just have some sort of short-term ride-through,” adds Fischer. BE_bug_web

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To access additional case studies and in-depth reporting, check out the May edition of Business Energy. 

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