2015 – A great year for Keysource

The past 12 months have been really exciting for our business with some key contract wins and great new people joining us. We have also won a record number of awards, launched a new website and hit the headlines in the trade press.

In January we started the year by winning a new data centre design project for Nottingham based colocation provider Space Data Centres, and later that month we were named as preferred supplier for a new Modular Data Centre for Jaguar Land Rover.

In February our new website went live. It has been designed to showcase our capabilities as a turnkey provider of solutions for data centres and business critical environments. In March the industry saw a change in the Construction (Design & Management) regulations and we created a handy tick sheet to help our customers ensure their project details were all in one place.  Download it now! We were also awarded a Sussex Super Growth Award which recognised our 135% growth over the last three years!

After Easter we were celebrating again after we won a Silver RoSPA Award for Occupational Health and Safety for the second year in a row and were praised for our high health and safety standards. We then successfully undertook a critical power and monitoring upgrade of Epsom St Helier NHS Universities Trust Data Centre.  Supporting all of the critical systems in the hospital, we were proud to deliver the project with zero downtime.

The summer saw no let up for the teams here as we completed a professional services offering with The National Archives, supporting them in developing a set of best practice principles and energy efficiency initiatives which can be implemented throughout the data centre. We also worked with ITPS on a new data centre near Newcastle upon Tyne.  Scalable to 1.4MW the new data centre uses Keysource’s modular approach and offers hosted and cloud services as well as colocation space.

As the year progressed and the nights grew darker we continued to grow our portfolio of high profile clients and completed a new modular data centre for Jaguar Land Rover.  With resilience and efficiency key to the design we delivered the project within just 20 weeks. Our work in the education sector continued too as we were chosen by Teesside University to provide principle consultancy for a challenging data centre upgrade project.

In October our new Managing Director – FM, Tod Harrison, spoke to Tomorrow’s FM to answer 10 hard hitting (not) questions. You can see the full article here. We were also shortlisted for an EI award (Energy Efficiency) in recognition of our approach to delivering high efficiency cooling solutions in multiple data centres across the UK.

We ended the year as we had started it – on a high – with the completion of the new data centre for brightsolid in Aberdeen. The CEO at brightsolid said some very nice things about us too  – you can see the video here.

Finally I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients and suppliers for helping us to make this a brilliant year. Let’s hope 2016 is even better!

Is it possible to future proof a Data Centre?

At Keysource we believe it is very important for our customers to have a long-term strategy for IT that will support their critical applications and services in the future. Indeed, future proofing is a key focus for our services, as we know how important it is for investments to have longevity and not to become costly mistakes in the future.

In our experience there is certainly no one-size-fits-all when it comes to developing a strategy that meets both an organisation’s business and technical needs. This is because applications can reside on-premise, in a colocation facility, in the public cloud or be managed in a private cloud. There are a number of factors that influence these choices including cost, speed and type of application, availability, security as well as data sovereignty. We believe that customers need to think carefully about how their applications and IT systems are structured and we help them through those options. With technology and business agility changing at a rapid rate, the cost of getting it wrong can make a significant impact upon a business.

To provide world-class class consultancy and solutions for the full stack we work collaboratively with our customers bringing in partners who have the same values and approach as Keysource. Our role is to underpin the applications with the best services and data centre infrastructure that are aligned with the business needs in terms of resilience, performance, and capacity.

As part of our consultative approach, we also work with our customers to address future needs and this means offering scalable solutions. With these modular designs, we can keep the upfront investment to a minimum but allow for future growth in line with business needs.  Where delivering data centre solutions and infrastructure we concentrate on providing a consistent and reliable solution to the whole business irrespective of where applications are running.

We also understand that it is particularly important that, in environments where business critical information is being managed, CIOs have the right information available that gives relevant insight, so that important decisions can be reached quickly and planning can be made for the long term. We provide tools such as data centre infrastructure management software and intelligent BMS solutions, with the widest interoperability, so that CIOs can see what is happening across all of the IT from applications through to the data centre infrastructure. We also offer training and support over the life cycle of the data centre so that customers can continue to optimise their infrastructure and easily upgrade and integrate new technology as needed. Our aim is to help our customers add value to their service while also making savings in both time and money through the lifecycle of their facilities.

In conclusion, at Keysource we are focused on our customers and their specific business needs. This means we can deliver the right advice and solutions wherever applications need to reside.

Keysource is appointed on to a new data centre framework

Adding infrastructure and equipment to its consultancy offering.

Keysource, the critical engineering specialists, can now provide all aspects of data centre design and delivery through the new North Eastern Universities Purchasing Consortium Ltd (NEUPC) Data Centre Management Framework. This builds on the previous NEUPC framework, where Keysource was able to provide data centre consultancy services.

NEUPC is one of six UK Higher Education purchasing consortia established to deliver and manage a wide range of collaborative framework agreements within the higher education sector. NEUPC’s new Data Centre Management Framework offers a broad scope of equipment, infrastructure and consultancy. The framework was designed by IT and Telecoms procurement experts from Higher Education institutions to speed up the process of data centre procurement for members and provide a supplier benchmark for services. This two-year agreement went live on the 29th September 2015.

Rob Elder, Director at Keysource said,

We have a long pedigree of providing high performance data centre facilities to the education sector. We’re excited that we can now offer our NEUPC framework customers all of our expertise from consultancy right through to delivery and ongoing management through this framework. As a truly independent organisation, Keysource takes pride in providing customers with world class data centre facilities while keeping within the constraints of tight budgets.

Since its appointment five years ago, Keysource has provided consultancy services under the previous NEUPC data centre framework for prestigious customers such as Teesside University and The National Archives.

Keysource gets the green light for Teesside University Data Centre

Keysource, the data centre design specialist, has completed its role to deliver principal design consultancy to Teesside University for its challenging new data centre upgrade project.

Keysource’s design on this complex project, which recently received planning permission, will see the University’s data centre benefit from a new critical power generator. This will ensure it has an uninterruptable power supply as well as a highly resilient modular UPS which can be expanded in response to changing requirements. It also utilises an innovative fresh-air cooling system that will make full use of the low-ambient temperatures around the data centre.

The full scope of Keysource’s consultancy contract was to conduct an initial feasibility study identifying any issues and risks, and address them. Designs were then developed for critical power and air quality. Keysource also assisted with the planning submission and took responsibility for the procurement of contractors and suppliers, taking the role of CDM principal designer.

There were several major risks that needed to be ironed out in the design process due to the data centre’s location. The University is flanked by an estuary and in close proximity to the sea. This means that the atmosphere around the data centre could be potentially challenging for both the IT and M&E infrastructure, with corrosion being a risk needing to be factored into the design. In addition, as the data centre is in the heart of Middlesbrough where the surrounding area is host to a large number of industries, there is the usual threat from external contaminants.

Keysource had to take into account noise control and all modifications also had to meet strict planning requirements.

Andrew Maclaren, Assistant Director (Estates Services & Energy Procurement) at Teesside University said,

“We chose Keysource through the North East Universities Purchasing Consortium (NEUPC) framework. We wanted totally independent data centre design specialists with experience in both fresh air cooling as well as working within the education sector. Keysource has professionally met every requirement and we’re really pleased with their designs and guidance on sourcing the best solutions for our needs.”

Andy Hayes, Director at Keysource added,

“We have a number of Higher Education providers within our portfolio and are well versed in the challenges the sector faces particularly around the need for flexibility and the budgetary constraints. We were able to complete this project on time and on budget and our innovative design will ensure the data centre meets Teesside University’s IT requirements for many years to come.”

To PUE or not to PUE (That is the Question!) What is it and why is it useful?

For a few years now the data centre industry has been moving towards a standard measure of effectiveness for the use of power within data centres.  Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), whilst not yet a globally agreed measure is fast becoming the standard and formalising the calculation is well underway. But what is it and why should you bother?

PUE allows organisations and enterprises to gather data, measure and report the effectiveness of their data centre, or indeed data room, in terms of power use.

In simple terms, PUE is,

Total Energy Used in the Facility
Energy Used by the IT Equipment

For smaller organisations or facilities that are located within a larger mixed-use space, Partial PUE (pPUE) can be used. This allows the data centre manager to measure PUE within a set boundary such as a room or building, or an area such as the equipment owned by certain customers or departments.  For example, you may want to measure the pPUE of individual data halls, rather than the facility as a whole.

The difficulty for many businesses is the availability of the data and information required. Whilst assumptions can be made and data captured at different points it does mean that comparing PUE or pPUE across market sectors is difficult. However the real value of PUE isn’t the creation of a global league table and winners awards, but more importantly PUE gives anyone with one or more data centres or data rooms the ability to measure and compare the effective use of power over time and across the business. (There are a wide range of intelligent monitoring solutions available for data centres, you can see some of the ones we offer by clicking on the link and keep an eye out for our upcoming blog post on the “5 things you need to know about DCIM”)

PUE gives everyone the ability to measure and improve the use of power in their data centres.

So what should be included in each group for the calculation?
Total Energy Used by the Facility

Plus the IT equipment listed below

Energy Used by the IT Equipment

Whilst the Total Energy Used by the Facility can often be gathered at source from the utility meter supplying the facility, or a meter just prior to the data room (for pPUE), the data collected regarding the Energy Used by the IT Equipment will be more accurate the closer the source of the information is to the individual units that consume the power. For example, gathering power usage from the installed UPS units is not as accurate as the information available from the subsequent Power Distribution Units (PDUs), which in turn is not as accurate as the data gathered from individual meters immediately prior to the IT Equipment.

PUE and pPUE account for this within the standard definition by allowing 3 variations, PUE1, 2 and 3, with PUE3 being the most accurate. There is also three different reporting frequencies; Yearly (Y), Monthly (M) or Weekly (W) with each denoting what period the data has been averaged over. On top of this you then have the data collection frequency; Monthly, Weekly, Daily or Continuously. So a PUEL3YC (which is the standard measurement we use at Keysource) would be a measurement from PDU level on a continuous basis. 

World Class PUE

Given the lack of consistency in measurements and environments it is not valid to quote a ‘world class PUE’, however it is generally accepted that a PUE of 2 or less is considered good and less than 1.4 is considered very good. A PUE of 1 means that 100% of the energy is used by the IT Equipment and therefore the physical data centre is 100% efficient, a PUE of 2 or less would mean that 50% or more of the power used by the data centre is used by the IT Equipment and so on.

There are so many factors that effect the efficiency of data centres that “snap shot” PUE figures can be misleading.  For example:

Because of this, continuous reporting and monitoring is the recommended way of tracking PUE, by not only Keysource but also The Green Grid; who developed the metric in the first place.

As touched upon it is also important to take into account the different environmental conditions of different regions. As such, PUE levels cannot be compared across regions because a higher PUE in one region might be relatively better than a PUE in another region but we will look at this in more detail in another post.

Remember, the key is consistency, define your measure, data sources and frequencies and stick with them. 

Design PUE or the PUE of new facilities

When a customer wanting a new facility designed and/or built approaches Keysource, they often have an idea of the PUE they want to achieve and a design is developed to meet this business need whilst also meeting the technical requirements.  However as this is a theoretical figure (admittedly based on some very complex mathematics!), how can you, as the customer, be sure that this is what you will be able to achieve and what if anything should you be aware of?  Find out more in our next blog looking at PUE.

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