i3 Solutions Group Lon1 data centre award winning modernisation project

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Following the acquisition of its first UK facility, international data centre operator ServerFarm turned to design engineering firm i3 Solutions Group to modernise and optimise the facility.

A facility upgrade was to be executed through the identification and delivery of additional power capacity. And, at the same time i3 Solutions Group was to help create a flexible, multi-tenant data centre ready for low to high density workloads ranging from 1-4kW per rack to 20kW per rack with a design PUE of below 1.2.

Upgrade & Expansion
The 120,000 square foot 6MW Lon1 data centre located in Feltham, London was acquired in March 2018 and within five and a half months i3 had completed the modernisation.
i3 Solutions Group optimised the entire facility creating a Tier3+ environment in terms of uptime and efficiency through cost effective modernisation of electrical gear. New switches and UPS equipment were deployed to create N+1 electrical infrastructure with A+B feeds combined with new super-efficient chillers and new CRAC units to create N+1 mechanical environment. This was completed while keeping the site live for existing commercial colo and telco enterprise customers.

The firm’s experts looked at an overall master plan for the site and identified the base field design was to provide 6MW. i3 design engineers’ new design enabled increased capacity of the facility from 6MW to 10.8MW.

The Lon1 data centre is a multi-storey building with the middle floor occupied by a live customer, a global telecommunications company. Working with live facilities brought new challenges to the already complex, critical facilities infrastructure engineering project.

i3 assessment indicated that this occupied data centre floor was operating below its original design capacity of 3MW due to ageing and missing equipment. A thorough refresh of the main plant, adding new UPSs and new chillers enabled i3 to achieve an increase in capacity to 3.6MW on the middle floor – without affecting the live customer load.

“ServerFarm’s Lon1 data centre is one of the most efficient, sustainable and highly connected multi-tenant mission critical colocation sites within the M25. Living up to its reputation built over many years, i3 Solutions Group brought valuable experience and engineering expertise to ServerFarm’s Lon1 data centre. Throughout the design and delivery phase of the transformation project i3 displayed the highest levels of professionalism and knowledge and played a major part of the successful capacity expansion and upgrade of the mechanical and electrical infrastructure of the facility. With total site power capacity now over 10MW and within sight of London’s Heathrow airport ServerFarm Lon1 is a prime location for enterprise and service provider customers from across every type of market,” says Jim Shanahan, COO ServerFarm.

Efficient cooling is essential
i3 identified how to transform the cooling efficiency of the technology halls, by moving from a single fixed volume chilled water circuit to primary and secondary variable circuits in a live environment. The chiller technology was changed from power hungry, inefficient 15-year old chillers to variable speed TurboCor chillers with free cooling. This resulted in both lower energy use and greater environment control.

To further increase the cooling capacity without addition of new equipment i3 addressed system air management. This enabled a rise in chilled water temperatures which had three positive outcomes.

  1. An increase in the capacity per footprint of chiller.
  2. Increased efficiency of the chiller units.
  3. A dramatic increase in the free cooling window.

This reduced overall energy consumption, increased operational efficiency without downtime and without compromise to the live customer load.

“The opportunity to expand the available capacity while greatly improving the efficiency of the facility made working on the ServerFarm Lon1 data centre a rewarding project for i3 Solutions Group. ServerFarm’s objective was to turn an existing enterprise data centre live environment into a multi-tenant commercial colocation facility for multiple stakeholders. Having a detailed understanding of the original design intent, on site installation and the operational parameters of the systems was crucial to minimising the risks of working with operational systems. With a tight programme incorporating the challenge of a system refresh and energy efficiency upgrades to the legacy power and cooling systems planning for every contingency was essential. At the same time live systems always have the ability to deliver the unforeseen, requiring flexible, responsive, accurate problem solving and fast decision making,” says Luke Neville, director i3 Solutions Group.

These modernisation efforts in design, deployment and operation created a site capable of the efficient delivery of power densities that are aligned to modern workloads. The facility now meets modern customer demands for greater densities on smaller footprints saving space, power and operational cost.

i3 Solutions Group focused its expert ability to identify, and efficiently deliver additional data centre capacity to the ServerFarm Lon1 modernisation project. This additional capacity was brought to market within months, enhancing the value of the facility as a commercial colocation offering. As well as driving significant Opex savings the project enhanced the data centre offering in terms of flexibility of environment and ability to easily add additional capacity in response to workload and customer demand.

The project was recognised for its innovation and execution winning multiple awards.
SDC Award Winner for Digital Transformation Project of the Year 2019
DCD Award Data Center Modernization Project of the Year 2019

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