A ‘thorough tour de force’ in the municipality of Rotterdam, part 1

The Rotterdam Development Company (OBR) is a body which expands initiatives aimed at the development of the municipal infrastructure in the port. One of the OBR’s recent activities was launching Rotterdam Internet Exchange (R-iX) which is accommodated at a number of locations and functions, among other things, as a market place for the suppliers and providers of internet services. The R-iX also offers co-location facilities to companies and establishments wishing to accommodate their ICT platforms in a professional space.

The Challenge

Installation of the data centre in one of the locations was subjected to four challenges for which solutions had to be found. Much equipment required the safe removal of hot air generated by the installation. A problem with this is that the hot air from one cabinet with equipment could get into another cabinet. This interferes with the necessary intake of cold air.  

Good organisation of the wiring is of the greatest importance to the continuity of the data centre. The enormous quantity of digital spaghetti must be housed in an efficient system of cable channels whereby there is a difference between the UTP cables and the glass fibres. The two sorts of wires require different systems of wiring. The data centre already has a fire protection system. Moreover physical protection of the area is also imperative in view of the consequences of sabotage to the system and the enormous quantity of essential and confidential data. The installation of the air conditioning needed met with problems because of the underground location; there is no direct connection with the outside air.

An arrangement of cabinets in several rows has been chosen with passageways on both sides. These areas are divided into hot and cold passageways. In the first type, the backs of the appliances, where the hot air is emitted, face each other. In the cold passageways the fronts, where the cold air is taken in, face each other. Mulder- Hardenberg has provided a system of glass fibre channels without risking damage or faults. Critical points when applying glass fibre are the bends and the so-called ‘break outs’.

The tools used by M-H guarantee the correct bending radius at all times so that faults and breaks are avoided. Mulder-Hardenberg has chosen a system of cameras for surveillance in the data centre. The recorded images are stored in a locally set-up PC. The software which has been adapted by M-H offers the opportunity of viewing the images remotely. The solution for the air conditioning problem is to place units in an adjoining room, under the escalators of the underground train station. Further investigations show that there are openings in the underground location. Outside air can flow freely through these openings from the point under the escalators.

The Implementation

Due to the ingenious arrangement of the cabinets the installation’s outlet air can be collected and removed in the hot passageway. The cold passageway guarantees an unobstructed flow of cold air at the front of the equipment. The channel system adapted by M-H provides a large number of tools which make applying a mutation at a later stage simple, such as a ‘break out’. It is not necessary to saw anything, dust is not released and the work can be carried out in the room without breakdowns. Obviously this saves much time and money. The material does not contain halogen. No hazardous substances remain after a fire. This prevents breakdown of equipment when the data centre is restarted after a fire.

The result

Solving these four challenges is vital to the data centre functioning well. The necessity for adequate security is evident and is beyond dispute. The other three points particularly involve making the 24 hour operations in this nerve centre as continuous as possible. Breakdowns as a consequence of overheating and the interruption of signals lead to dramatic consequences, which are often followed by damage claims from customers. With these multi-disciplinary solutions Mulder- Hardenberg has restricted the risk of breakdowns to a minimum.

Read more in Part two

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