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Inside Telstra's Docklands datacentre

The London datacentre is being revamped to bring full hot and cold aisle containment to every floor, with the aim of increasing power efficiency without forcing customers to change hardware
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Telstra's rack enclosure

Telstra is in the process of revamping a 10-year-old building shell in London to support a modern high-efficiency datacentre, with the help of consulting company On365.

The Australia-based telecoms and colocation company has datacentres across the world. Its Docklands-based facility is targeted at customers who need guaranteed connectivity, as it links to Telstra's 400Gbps dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) London fibre ring.

The first stage of the revamp is bringing hot aisle and cold aisle containment to every floor of the nine-floor datacentre to maximise power usage effectiveness (PUE). As it stands, the PUE of the centre is 1.6, as Telstra has already modified five of the floors, with another four of the floors to go.


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As Telstra is a colocation supplier its customers have a variety of rack hardware

The upgrade to the 114,250-square foot site is an attempt by Telstra to claw back power by getting rid of inefficiencies in cooling.

The goal is to grab back around 50 to 60KW from cold aisle containment on each of the facility's nine operational floors. With this, as well as upgrades to the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system, Telstra hopes eventually to get around a megawatt of power back.

One of the few bits of hardware that can give Telstra trouble with controlling the temperature differential between the hot aisle and cold aisle is a type of switch from Cisco that is popular with customers. The Cisco 7600 series of routers have a tendency to blow air out of the front, which proves a headache for heat management, Kevin Sell, head of technical facilities at Telstra International, told ZDNet UK.


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APC by Schneider Electric software gives Telstra data about how its racks are performing

Telstra uses an energy management suite of software from APC by Schneider Electric for monitoring and managing the power and cooling of the servers. The StruxureWare Central software (pictured) is used to monitor the watt drawdown and the operating temperature of servers, along with other operating factors.

Telstra customers can key into the software via a web-based portal to look at the status — temperature, power consumption, and such — of their racks.

By implementing Schneider APC's monitoring system, Telstra believes it's able to boost the efficiency with which it consumes power while being able to offer customers service-level agreements on power consumption and uptime backed by a mutually accessible source of data. 

Monitoring "encourages good behaviour on both sides", Sell said. "If [customers] say 'last night my temp went over 24°C, we can't deny it."


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The company even plans to discharge heat into the Docklands waterways

For the future, Telstra plans a major project to get rid of heat by using the water in its London Docklands surroundings to chill the water it uses.

"We've applied to British Waterways to dispose of 3MW of heat into the dock, which British Waterways has approved," Sell said. "We're just waiting on the Environment Agency." He explained the system will be a "massive heat exchanger" that makes use of the relatively cool waters of the wharf for chilling.

"That should give us almost year-round practically free cooling," he said.


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