Improved data centre resilience and efficiency is a cool outcome from Schneider Electric upgrade at University College Dublin

07 June 2023

University College Dublin (UCD) is the largest university in Ireland, with a total student population of about 33,000. The main campus at Belfield, Dublin is served by two on-premises data centres that support all the IT needs of students, faculty, and staff, including high-performance computing (HPC) clusters for computationally intensive research. The main data centre in the Daedalus building, hosts all the centralised IT including storage, virtual servers, identity and access Management, business systems, networking, and network connectivity in conjunction with a smaller on-premises data centre.

Ageing cooling infrastructure presents downtime threat and reputational damage

Resilience is a key priority for UCD’s IT Services and with its campus located close to Dublin’s city centre, real estate is at a premium. There are continuing demands for more student facilities and consequently the need to make more efficient use of space by support services such as IT. Finally, there is a pervasive need to maintain services as cost-effectively as possible and to minimise environmental impact in keeping with a general commitment to sustainability.

As part of a major strategic development of the university’s facilities called Future Campus, the main Daedalus data centre was required to free up some outdoor space taken up by a mechanical plant and make it available for use by another department. The IT Services organisation took this opportunity to revise the data centre cooling architecture to make it more energy and space efficient as well as more resilient and scalable.

One challenge with the chilled water system was that it relied upon a single set of pipes to supply the necessary coolant, which therefore represented a single point of failure. Any issues encountered with the pipework, such as leaks, could therefore threaten the entire data centre with downtime. This could create problems at any time in the calendar, however, were it to occur at critical moments such as during exams or registration it would have a big impact on the university community.

Migration to Schneider Electric Uniflair InRow DX Cooling Solution

UCD IT services opted to replace the existing chilled water-based cooling system with a new solution utilising Schneider Electric’s Uniflair InRow Direct Expansion (DX) technology, utilising a refrigerant vapour expansion and compression cycle. The condensing elements have been located on the roof of the data centre, conveniently freeing up significant ground space on the site formerly used for a cooling plant.

UCD selected Total Power Solutions, a Schneider Electric Elite Partner, to deliver the cooling update project. Working together with Schneider Electric, Total Power Solutions was responsible for the precise design of an optimum solution to meet the data centre’s needs and its integration into the existing infrastructure…

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