Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust has appointed Keysource, the expert in business critical environments, to review its data centre infrastructure. This will involve benchmarking the data centres at each hospital to ensure the significant investment the Trust has made in its IT infrastructure is protected.
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust provides healthcare to 258,000 people across Southport, Formby and West Lancashire and the ongoing security and resilience of its data is a key consideration. Under the terms of the deal Keysource will also provide a clear strategy that will meet the Trust’s future data requirements, reduce running costs and minimise the risk of potential downtime. A further report will look at options to enhance the resilience and availability of the site.
The Keysource team will assess the critical power, distribution to the racks as well as cooling, monitoring and general layout of the data centres. The review will be conducted while the infrastructure is live so that critical services provided by the hospitals are not interrupted in any way.
Matt Connor, Head of IT at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said,
“We were looking for a partner who could help us to deliver industry best practice standards throughout our data centre estate and Keysource had the best credentials. We were both impressed and reassured by their approach from the outset and look forward to working closely with the team.”
Mike West, Managing Director at Keysource, added,
“This contract is the latest addition to our healthcare portfolio and further builds on our extensive expertise in the sector. We understand the challenges faced by public sector organisations in terms of resilience and cost and are ideally placed to help them meet their objectives.”
At Keysource we are committed to investing in our people through ongoing training and career development. We also believe that as an industry leading business we have a duty to share best practice within our sector.
To support this we have been accepted as a member of the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Certification Service which will enable us to formally certify our training courses and seminars. This will mean that our courses can form part of professional qualifications making them additionally valuable to both internal and external attendees.
We also believe that the CPD Certification Service will help us to formalise our knowledge into the most structured and recognised approach, helping us to effectively share the unrivaled knowledge that our teams have gathered over many years. If you would like details of any of our forthcoming courses or seminars please contact our marketing team.
We also regularly create and share resources on Our Resources page to download for free. You can also watch previous presentations we have given at industry events.
When Data Centre designers and builders talk about the efficiency of the facilities they have designed and/or built in terms of the industry standard PUE, they often reference the design PUE. We look at why this can be misleading and why it is important to understand the difference.
This blog is part of a series looking at PUE and data centre monitoring; you can read our first post, which looks at what PUE is and why it is important here.
When a new facility is designed, a PUE can be calculated based on the energy consumption of the proposed plant, cooling etc. as a measure of how efficient the solution could be. So why is this a problem?
Well, the PUE figure being quoted is often based on the premise that the data centre is actually running at 100% IT load. This is often unrealistic, as most data centres, especially in the colocation market build up their loads over time, with it taking anything from three years or more to get near to operating at full-load. In reality traditional data centre efficiency rapidly deteriorates at lower IT loads (most facilities never operate at 100%). This means that the suggested power efficiency levels will not come in to play for a significant time, if ever, and operating costs will be substantially higher than indicated by the Design PUE.
Whilst Keysource is reasonably unique in the fact that we have in-house design, project management and operation teams (which allow us to constantly feedback and learn from past projects) we would expect most data centre design and build companies to understand the fact that most facilities need to be efficient not only at full load but also at part load. They should take time with you to fully understand not only the technical requirements of the facility but also your business, so they can explain and work through this with you.
When this is not done it can cause problems as, understandably, it can have big impacts on your operating costs. This limitation of the PUE calculation is of particular importance to companies that are working to tight margins to provide for example, cloud services and colocation services.
To keep operational costs under control, it is often best to consult with specialist data centre designers. They will be able to advise you on the best technologies to deploy that drive down part load operating costs from the start and who will be able to work with you to fully meet your business and technical requirements.
We recently completed a data centre for colocation specialist; ITPS (read the case study). Part of our process was to really understand their business objectives and use our experience within the regional colocation market to propose a solution that would deliver not only the highest efficiency but also allow high densities to be deployed anywhere within the data centre. Knowing that this efficiency was needed from day one the design was built to be highly efficient at part load. To further enhance this a modular solution was used to allow ITPS to deploy more cooling and plant as required rather than having it all in place on day one.
If you would like to understand more about PUE you can read our previous posts which explain the different ways PUE can be measured or download the top 10 things you need to know about PUE. As you may have guessed, it’s one of the areas we are passionate about so please call us and speak to one of the team.
We are happy to talk you through any of the issues and answer any questions about your current or planned facility’s PUE and, if required, give you some more information on how you can increase the efficiency of your facility.
By Justin Busk – Head of SHE
As we move into a new year thoughts often turn to bettering yourself – a new year new you senario, you make plans to go to the gym more; complete dry January (we’ve made it!) or take up a new hobby, but the same is often not the case for businesses. We are not experts in psychology so couldn’t explain this but we are experts in data centres and critical environments, and especially how to optimise them. So today we are looking at auditing and how it can help inform and contribute to a wider plan to improve or develop parts of your business!
At Keysource we have an independent expert team of auditors that specialise in critical facilities and environments. We believe this is a natural fit with the consultancy part of our business which covers all aspects of data centre design, build and management, in addition to niche areas such as safety, health, environment and compliance.
Auditing is a great way to test the reliability, resilience, efficiency and effectiveness of the policies, systems and procedures in any business. This is particularly important in critical environment arena and can form the basis for major business decisions moving forward.
An external audit will enable you to identify gaps and recognise improvement opportunities which can have a fundamental effect on the development of your business. It will also give you the data to be able to convince other organisations that you are a suitable partner for them or to lobby for additional resources. Findings can also help you to address specific issues, build and deliver business cases and form the basis of strategic planning.
Unlike many companies undertaking audits at Keysource we are less focussed on the actual report itself, and more interested in the results and how to address and/or maximise the findings. That said we do follow certain standard procedures for every audit we do, such as establishing the right team of auditors and ensuring each member possesses the relevant technical experience, skill-set, knowledge and experience to help you gain maximum benefit and insight.
However after that the audit is entirely bespoke and can be aligned with any specific circumstances and objectives. It might include reviewing opportunities for improvement, gap analysis, potential legal compliance risk, good practices and agreed follow up plans. These will be discussed during a closing meeting and developed and implemented with additional support if necessary.
To maintain further impartiality and transparency the audit team is always led by a lead auditor who is a member of IRCA (International Register of Certificated Auditors). The lead auditor ensures that the audit process aligns with the three main dimensions to auditing; Intent, Implementation and Effectiveness.
We have been an approved official auditor for the DCA Data Centre Certification Scheme since 2014 which verifies facilities’ compliance and provides greater clarity for buyers and specifiers. It identifies and verifies four key areas of a facility, namely resilience, physical site security, energy efficiency credentials, and operational professionalism.
If you are interested in speaking to us about our auditing capabilities please contact: Justin Busk on [email protected].
If you would like to know more about the different certifications available, you can watch our webinar recording or see our analysis of the data centre certification landscape.
This was first published in the November edition of Data Centre Solutions Europe, but if you missed it catch up below.
The data centre sector continues to grow at a phenomenal rate, however a lack of consistent industry-wide standards is creating confusion for anyone trying to assess or compare the overall quality of individual facilities. Keysource, the critical environment specialists, calls for greater clarification.
There are currently several organisations working on behalf of the data centre sector that offer their own industry standards, each of which have made valuable in-roads towards promoting best practice. The Uptime Institute has certified around 170 data centres under its tiered system, while The Green Grid has witnessed a widespread adoption of its PUE scoring. The European Commission set up the EU Code of Conduct to encourage best practice, whereas The Data Centre Alliance (DCA) offers data centre owners and operators the opportunity to gain certification of their facility using an independent audit process. In addition, there are a number of other classifications and standards such as BSEN 50600 (which the DCA aligns with), TIA942 and the BICSI002-2014.
Whilst the work delivered by these organisations has had a positive effect, the industry has ultimately suffered due to a lack of transparent industry-wide standards that can be adopted by all stakeholders to assess the overall quality of any given facility. As a result, the industry is rife with conflicting views and this confusion looks set to continue.
For example, data centre developers do not have a common set of standards to ask designers, builders and operators to adhere to. In addition, operators cannot lay claim to meeting a concrete set of industry standards when advertising their facilities. This means that those purchasing services naturally find it difficult to distinguish between data centres that are designed, built and critically; operated, to a high standard and those that are not. At present, an organisation may choose to pay a professional to independently audit a facility, however any results are derived from only one particular consultant at one specific time. This is compounded by the service level requirements associated with managed or cloud service provision where customers are not simply buying data centre space.
In the current landscape, it is difficult for organisations to determine the suitability of a data centre or a service provider, and in many cases they just have to rely on what they are being told, which is obviously not the best approach. The Uptime Institute has made a big impact with its tiered system, however many providers are using it as a marketing ploy, and the Institute is now, understandably, having to clamp down on organisations that are exploiting it.
The Institute has led the way on certification, particularly in the case of resilience. However many customers request Tier III without knowing quite what it means.
In reality, customers will have different availability, density, and performance requirements for different applications. Combined with modular data centre design and multiple tenant and hall fit out, an overall facility could be very different. This therefore highlights the need for a more flexible approach to how we design and certify data centres, especially when the increased Capex needed to achieve greater levels of resilience, such as a certified Tier IV constructed facility, can be significant.
So what is the answer? Just to be clear, this is definitely not about developing new standards but rather helping to create some clarity and common understanding of the performance of data centres for all aspects of the industry.
An independent not for profit organisation, such as the Data Centre Alliance in the UK, is putting in place a framework to develop a consistent approach. Being funded by the industry, it also provides an opportunity for those who operate in this space to share their views and help shape this approach so that it works well in practice.
The approach being pursued by the Data Centre Alliance seems to be working, notwithstanding that at the moment there is much work to do and progress, and adoption, can be slow. A key part of this approach is to ensure governance, scrutiny and transparency are applied not just when an organisation is being audited but that the very audits and technical standards used for certification are robust. By not creating new standards but utilising existing ones, the DCA is not claiming anything new. Instead, it is providing a comprehensive approach to the certification of the data centre as a whole and not just one part.
Another key benefit of the DCA approach is that it has been designed to be affordable. Whilst other certifications are, in some aspects, more detailed or technical, and we would still encourage customers in certain situations to consider these, the DCA certification model means it is accessible not just to a few large IT firms or operators but to end users and in particular the public sector. This will hopefully serve to generate widespread demand and adoption and protect the DCA certification from becoming simply a badge for a select few.
With the continued globalisation of the industry, prompted by the growth of new data centre markets, particularly in South America, Asia and the Middle East, the need for industry-wide standards to help align different regions is more important than ever. A greater level of transparency is required across the sector and it is up the entire industry to work together in a bid to achieve this important goal.