When the Co-operative’s ethical plan was devised it included the construction of a new head office in Manchester that would set new standards in sustainability – achieving BREEAM Outstanding for its design, and reflecting our commitment to environmental sustainability. The new head office would be the center-piece of a Co-operative Group financed £800m redevelopment and investment program in Manchester city center named NOMA 53.
Sitting on land directly within scope of this redevelopment was the group’s primary data center – the engine room of its family of retail businesses incorporating food, pharmacy, travel, motor, funeral, and legal services. The Group’s banking, insurance and financial services arms operate from separate facilities.
This closure of this legacy facility provided an opportunity for the technology department to transform its data center operations in new surroundings. The result is a 2MW, heavily virtualized space, incorporating low, medium and predominately high-density rack-space in a new location to the West of the City. This facility became a key enabler for the head office BREEAM credentials, with the deployment of some 4,000 thin-client devices delivering a virtual desktop environment.
While the facility was designed to meet stringent resilience and energy efficiency criteria, a suitable operating code of practice to maintain the objectives and a true measure of its success would have to be identified and validated by an independent and respected industry body.
Following extensive research, the Group’s Technology Department selected CEEDA by the British Computer Society (BCS) to externally validate the procedures implemented and help it define and embed operating discipline and bestow best practise, propelling it to the realms of a best-in-class data center of excellence.
Observing the CEEDA code and guidelines, the data center now features ‘designed in’ M&E close control default and its day-to-day activities have been harmonized. These include ensuring IT installations and their power management configurations are continually cross-examined, air plenums and paths are not compromized, idle power minimized, part load efficiencies are maximized and racks are correctly utilized.
This approach returns the tangible benefits of lower running costs and optimum performance from the facility in terms of the utilization ratio with the M&E plant provision.
All too often, a data center will reach rack space capacity while only drawing 40 to 50% of the deployed M&E plant provision (minus redundancy), leaving it exposed to the lower end of the efficiency curve and incurring significantly higher running costs.
We avoided this with CEEDA and are now looking at how we can integrate CEEDA into our evolution path.
The transition into CEEDA adherence was relatively seamless. The criteria are more akin to common sense technique. There did, inevitably, remain a number of outstanding actions that the BCS-independent assessor compiled and these are being audited as to how we can accommodate their delivery.
It is difficult to place a precise figure on the financial return we have experienced in terms of energy reduction (the IT migration continues from the old data center to the new while the demand for IT solutions and digital services continues unbounded). We also have limited smart-metering capability at our legacy data center – a shared-space premises with an office environment. The financial benefits will emerge when the migration is complete. That said, the real driver in this project was to ensure the electronic heartbeat of the organization was ticking in tune with its social aspirations.
CEEDA compliance also enhanced our resilience. The practices now contribute and run through the operational veins of a data center which supports a £13bn mission-critical retail operation.
CEEDA has been developed to enable data center operators or organizations to demonstrate their commitment to enhancing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.
The program provides the data center with a comprehensive report and detailed action plan. That then becomes the roadmap for the business, providing constructive measures that can be used to further meet best practices.
BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, owns and manages the CEEDA program and data centers can be assessed by a BCS Accredited Program Provider (APP). Currently the primary APP is DCProfessional Development. For information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article first appeared in FOCUS 25. To read the digital edition click here.