• Should sustainability be part of your data center strategy?

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“We’re seeing fewer outages as we ensure safe, secure, and reliable IT services.” Jeff Hall, IT Service Operations Officer at MMU

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), a 150 year old institution, holds the distinction of greenest university in UK league tables. The University’s dedication to sustainability is exemplified by a series of dramatic changes that enabled them to reduce their carbon footprint to 15,600 tons, saving $5.9 million annually. Their goals were no different when it came to their new data center: sustainability is a high priority.

Today, MMU’s new primary data center has had a significant impact on MMU’s carbon footprint thanks to a comprehensive strategy and Schneider Electric solutions. “We’re reducing our overall emissions by 4% and taking a big stride toward our target of a 25% reduction,” said James Woodward, IT Client Services Manager at MMU. “We’re also seeing annual savings in energy costs exceeding 30% at the same time as gaining better control over our data center capacity utilization.”

Dual strategy: a key to success
Sustainability is important to MMU’s operational mission. So for their new high density data center, they established the dual strategy of improving the reliability of IT services and reducing their environmental impact. “It’s important that everybody contributes to the sustainability agenda at MMU, and the data center is an obvious opportunity,” said Woodward.

Despite consensus on the dual strategy, it remained unclear how MMU would address the challenges in the way services were delivered. The numerous departments and faculties, from HR and Finance to Science and Engineering, required 24/7services. But the way in which IT services were provisioned – through myriad server rooms and small data centers spread across the campus – was less than ideal.

Any breaks in continuity had the potential of negatively impacting the student experience and as a consequence, the University’s reputation. “All voice and data services pass through the primary data center, so everything would be lost in the event of an outage,” said Jeff Hall, IT Service Operations Officer at MMU.

Consolidation offered a solution to the problem. “Our consolidation strategy was aimed at improving the efficiency and availability of the data center, as well as increasing capacity utilization over the life cycle of the new facility,” said Woodward.

Getting the project funded
Equipped with a strategy that addressed their goals and challenges, MMU needed to fund the project. But they needed to show that their strategy would work to get the project funded. So they built and presented their business case to Salix Finance Ltd, a not-for-profit company funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Welsh and Scottish Governments. Together, these entities provide 100% interest-free capital to the public sector to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions.

Woodward and his team audited the energy consumption of the ad-hoc server rooms, including lighting, cooling and powering the equipment. Actual energy use was compared with their forecast after consolidation to make a strong case for the project, achieving a return on investment well within the 5-year period specified in Salix’s terms. With access to funding, MMU had another critical step to make: finding a solutions provider to help them achieve everything on their checklist.

Finding an ideal partner
“We’d had experience with Schneider Electric and Elite Partners, APT when we replaced a UPS in our old data center,” said Woodward. Before making any decision though, MMU undertook proactive research: downloading white papers, reading case studies, and visiting other installations. “We also invited other solutions and ran a full tender before finalizing on APC InfraStruxure with Hot Aisle Containment System (HACS), together with StruxureWare for Data Centers Software,” said James Woodward.

In the end, MMU selected Schneider Electric. The University saw advantages in Schneider Electric’s modular architecture. “It meant that we could deploy the new data center using a phased approach; conserving capital and allowing us to keep the infrastructure proportional to the IT requirement,” said Hall. In addition, the modular approach enabled MMU to maximize the data center space selected at the new facility.

For MMU, the decision to make sustainability a key part of their overall data center strategy has paid off in the form of reliable IT services, increased data center availability, and lower carbon footprint thanks in large part to their partnership with Schneider Electric.

Getting the project funded
Equipped with a strategy that addressed their goals and challenges, MMU needed to fund the project. But they needed to show that their strategy would work to get the project funded. So they built and presented their business case to Salix Finance Ltd, a not-for-profit company funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Welsh and Scottish Governments. Together, these entities provide 100% interest-free capital to the public sector to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions.

Woodward and his team audited the energy consumption of the ad-hoc server rooms, including lighting, cooling and powering the equipment. Actual energy use was compared with their forecast after consolidation to make a strong case for the project, achieving a return on investment well within the 5-year period specified in Salix’s terms. With access to funding, MMU had another critical step to make: finding a solutions provider to help them achieve everything on their checklist.

Finding an ideal partner
“We’d had experience with Schneider Electric and Elite Partners, APT when we replaced a UPS in our old data center,” said Woodward. Before making any decision though, MMU undertook proactive research: downloading white papers, reading case studies, and visiting other installations. “We also invited other solutions and ran a full tender before finalizing on APC InfraStruxure with Hot Aisle Containment System (HACS), together with StruxureWare for Data Centers Software,” said James Woodward.

In the end, MMU selected Schneider Electric. The University saw advantages in Schneider Electric’s modular architecture. “It meant that we could deploy the new data center using a phased approach; conserving capital and allowing us to keep the infrastructure proportional to the IT requirement,” said Hall. In addition, the modular approach enabled MMU to maximize the data center space selected at the new facility.

For MMU, the decision to make sustainability a key part of their overall data center strategy has paid off in the form of reliable IT services, increased data center availability, and lower carbon footprint thanks in large part to their partnership with Schneider Electric.

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