PCs turn to PC blades to improve reliability

Welsh police have ditched desktops in favour of racks of blades added into the data centre — and slashed the air conditioning bill

A Welsh police force is using PC blades to increase reliability and security in its communications centre.

Dyfed-Powys Police has installed the technology in its new communication centre in Carmarthen, which opened in November.

IT services manager Aled Williams explained: "The new strategy and new building was the opportunity to look at what we could do with the technology and that's when we came across the PC blades."

Dyfed-Powys Police serves Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys — covering more than half the landmass of Wales. Its communications centre will use the PC blades for handling non-emergency incidents.

With the new PC blade system, rather than having the PC tower on the user's desk, the CPU is stored in a rack in the secure data centre. The user keeps their monitor, keyboard, mouse and a small user port connective device, for access to the command and control system and geographic information systems.

Williams said there were a number of issues with the old control room.

It was hot and noisy because of the number of PCs tucked under the desks, which led to component failures. This meant it wasn't very comfortable for the IT staff either and was awkward for them to make even a minor component change.

Williams added: "With the blade technology, what it allows us to do is lock away the blades in an extension of the data centre. For the IT people it's great because they don't have to go into the room, now they just go into the data centre."

He said: "We paid a premium to get the blades but, when we looked at the total cost, the benefits became viable financially because we saved a bit on the air conditioning plant.

"From a continuity perspective, if a blade fails you can swap them to a spare in seconds, so there's very little downtime and that's a great benefit to us," Williams said.