EfficiencyIT gives Genomic research facility greater visibility to enable cost savings for the benefit of mankind
IT Systems Reseller/Managed Services Provider of the Year
EfficiencyIT (EiT) are a new value added reseller (VAR) and UK Elite Partner to Schneider Electric. They are experts in the field of data centre design and build and work with some of the world’s most well known businesses, including sports teams, leading charities and incredible research institutions like the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridge.
The Wellcome Sanger Institute is one of the world’s leading research facilities focused on genomic discovery. The DNA sequencing machines at the core of its research efforts generate vast quantities of data, the analysis of which drives research efforts into improving human health in several challenging areas, including cancer, malaria and other pathogens. As such, no other edge data centre is as important to discoveries about human life as the one at Sanger.
The volume of data and the speed at which it is generated requires ample processing power to be available onsite, and Wellcome Sanger has recently added a fourth data hall within its existing facility which, with 400 racks consuming 4MW of power, is now the largest genomic research data centre in Europe. With a need to be highly scalable, and to meet the stringent operating demands placed on it by Wellcome Sanger’s commitment to minimising the environmental impact of its activities, as well as the requirement to be as cost-effective to operate as possible, the data centre needs to be managed as effectively as possible.
As part of its on-going demand for greater processing power, Sanger recently made operational a fourth data hall within its existing data centre facility. Comprising more than 400 racks and consuming 4MW of power, the Institute is now the largest genomic research data centre in Europe.
As part of this upgrade, Sanger worked directly with EfficiencyIT (EiT), a value added reseller (VAR), specialist in data centre design and build, and UK Elite Partner to Schneider Electric. Having worked closely with the Institute for a number of years, whilst forming a long-term, strategic partnership with Schneider Electric, EiT were able to recommend the best course of action in terms of monitoring for this data-driven and distributed IT environment, ensuring that its scientific research would continue without interruption from downtime or from unexpected outages.
EiT specified Schneider Electric EcoStruxure IT™; a cloud-based Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software platform, which enables the user to manage all of the key infrastructure assets and improve the overall efficiency of the data centre.
Installed by EiT’s software experts, the solution provides the Wellcome Sanger Institute with insight into the operation of all key infrastructure assets in the data centre, including APC by Schneider Electric NetShelter™ racks, APC rack-metered power distribution units (PDUs), Smart-UPS™ uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and cooling equipment.
“Partnership is absolutely crucial for today’s data centre environments.” Nick Ewing, Managing Director, EiT, said: “By listening closely to the Wellcome Sanger Institutes’s challenges and understanding the paramount importance of their work, we were able to recommend the most cost-effective and innovative solution to support their business objectives. As such, they selected EcoStruxure, which gives them greater visibility into the IT and power infrastructure, whilst ensuring they can drive both operational and energy efficiency.”
EcoStruxure IT™ is highly scalable and quick to deploy and install, allowing thousands of devices to be connected and discovered in less than 30 minutes. The software is completely vendor-neutral, allowing the user to manage all of the critical infrastructure assets on their network within a single solution, leveraging Data Analytics that enable smarter real-time decision making and ensure that any unexpected issues are identified and quickly resolved.
The platform, where data from assets is stored, pooled and analysed, is highly cyber secure and GDPR compliant, allowing users to view all of their assets at any time, from anywhere and on any device. Additionally, security, software and patch updates are automatically issued via the Schneider Electric Cloud, which is hosted on Microsoft Azure to ensure customer information is kept safe and secure.
Previously, the Sanger facility had not utilised a unified management platform for its hardware assets. Such systems as were in place had grown organically as the data centre grew. According to Simon Binley: “It was perhaps natural that the focus was on the IT equipment housed within the data centre and not necessarily on the power train. The EcoStruxure solution unifies those two important data centre elements, giving us greater visibility of the entire estate.”
EcoStruxure IT replaces that disjointed system with a single management console that allows a much more comprehensive and integrated view of the operation of the entire facility. “Visibility of power utilisation and assets throughout the data centre is the first step to build a complete understanding of what the facility looks like,” says Binley. “From that we can make an informed decision on how to make it more efficient. Having the ability to see and manage more than 400 racks of critical IT equipment, and all the components contained within each, gives us a significant advantage and enables a massive improvement to the operation of the data centre.”
Additionally, the DNA sequencing equipment on which the scientific effort depends are protected by individual APC by Schneider Electric Smart-UPS™ uninterruptible power supply systems that will, in future, be networked and brought under the control of EcoStruxure IT.
Downtime within this distributed IT environment would require the chemicals used in the research process to be replaced at significant cost, in addition to lost time and data. Ongoing monitoring of UPS battery health is therefore essential to ensure runtime is available and makes a major contribution towards the Wellcome Sanger Institute avoiding outages in both the data sequencing and research efforts.
EcoStruxure IT was chosen, says Binley, because it was considered best in class for the Wellcome Sanger Institute’s requirements after examining several competing products. It was well suited to the existing infrastructure in the data centre, most of which has been provided by Schneider Electric, but because of its standards-based open-platform architecture, it can simply and easily integrate with hardware from other vendors.
As well as improving the operation of the data centre itself, EcoStruxure IT’s management capabilities can also be extended to other distributed assets throughout the Institute and the broader Wellcome Genome Campus, including is sequencers. Several other communications equipment rooms distributed throughout the Campus are also made visible within EcoStruxure IT’s single pane of glass.
Another benefit of EcoStruxure IT is its cloud-based architecture, which enables the Institute to outsource some of its critical IT requirement to third-party colocation providers and still manage the infrastructure internally. The solution provides Wellcome with complete visibility of IT health, ensuring that both the data centre manager and any accompanying maintenance or service providers, such as EiT, are instantly notified via email and the EcoStruxure IT smartphone application should a power outage occur. In this way it allows all key stakeholders to have visibility, whilst enabling rapid collaboration to help quickly resolve critical IT issues.
The payback for installing EcoStruxure IT will be seen through reduced operating costs, especially in terms of a reduction in energy consumption. “From a power and energy perspective, we expect to save between 5 and 10% over the first two years in the data centre itself,” says Binley. “We can do that by raising the room temperature in the data halls, currently set at 19C to 21C. For a 4MW facility, that represents a significant cost saving thanks to a reduced cooling effort required, and as the product matures, we would look to increase that even further.”
The Institute has ambitious targets for improving the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating for the data centre from between 1.6 and 1.8 where it is now, to around 1.4, which will yield even further cost savings. “Any improvement in PUE and energy efficiency automatically reduces electrical spend and allows us to repurpose investment into other areas,” says Binley. “That means more equipment, more scientists and more benefit to humanity, which is the primary focus for the Wellcome Sanger Institute.”