Balancing efficiency and performance: the innovative strategy of the data center of the University of Turin

It’s no secret that infrastructure teams around the world are under severe pressure. They must balance the requirement of being efficient and cost-effective, while ensuring optimum reliability and performance. In the era of managed ICT services, teams must work hard to maintain and where possible increase their design skills and capabilities while implementing hardware and software systems.

This is exactly the challenge it faces University of Turin (UniTO) – one of the oldest and most prestigious Italian universities with a reputation for pioneering technological innovation.

Within its 27 departments hosting more than 80,000 students, UniTO has numerous multidisciplinary centers and laboratories aimed at promoting research and technology transfer on specific topics. Among these are the renowned HPC4AI @ UniTO open access laboratory focusing on methods and tools for the cloud and High-Performance Computing (HPC), in particular applications related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data and Analytics (BDA).

To enhance this innovative lab and support the university’s larger IT system, a new data center was needed. It had to be designed according to the most innovative systems available, both for cooling and for the UPS, and to meet the most stringent parameters in terms of energy consumption and environmental impact. Furthermore, it also had to be sympathetic to the surrounding environment as it is located within the university campus in the center of bustling Turin.

And that meant that reliable technology partnerships were urgently needed.

Leveraging the experience of Vertiv

To achieve its ambitious goals, UniTO has developed a Tier III data center (with N + 1 redundancy) capable of supporting up to 250 kW of ICT equipment, including 16 cabinets of at least 20 kVA each, and also hosting high-density servers. (1.5 kW per unit). The data center was built inside a security room and soundproofed in glass, clearly visible for students and researchers passing through the IT department. It also needed to achieve exceptional levels of energy efficiency, and this is where the expertise of technology leader, Vertiv, came into play.

Vertiv implemented an innovative and energy efficient air cooling system that enabled the university to achieve a substantial reduction in the complexity of the cooling system. The highly efficient outdoor cooling solution uses indirect freecooling with integrated evaporative cooling and an additional direct expansion system. In addition, a water treatment system was also installed to manage the water network to optimize water consumption, implemented by the installer. The data center is also equipped with drainage networks for the new units and a cooling system for the uninterruptible power supply room (UPS).

Importantly, as the building is located within the university campus in a crowded area of ​​Turin, the university has taken advantage of the innovative evaporative freecooling solution in order to minimize both noise pollution towards the external area and the impact of the data center within the campus itself.

The modular, without transformer UPS allows UniTo to easily scale up to 250 kW of additional power without increasing the footprint of the unit. It can also work in double conversation mode, which can result in energy efficiency up to 96.3% or up to 99% in ECO mode. The unit is approved by the Energy Technology List (ETL) for UK customers, who can claim 100% repayment of the first year capital benefit under the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme..

UniTO also relies on it Vertiv Life Services to provide a continuous view of the operation of critical equipment to enable performance improvements, streamline service processes for faster diagnostics, and add equipment operational analytics and service optimization. With Life Services, Vertiv experts continuously monitor and analyze all relevant operating and control parameters of equipment to maintain optimum performance. This data-driven approach allows UniTo to closely monitor current equipment status and operational performance, predict behaviors and respond immediately to abnormal conditions, remotely solving problems or dispatching a technician to the field in minutes.

A partnership that offers long-term benefits

Leveraging the experience of Vertiv, UniTO was able to enjoy countless advantages, such as the absence of wet services within the data center itself, resulting in increased security, reduced noise, reduced implementation times, increased rack space ( therefore much more space for the installation of servers dedicated to HPC, AI and BDA) inside the data center and greater security of the IT infrastructure.

And most importantly, being energy efficient hasn’t come at the expense of power and performance. Thanks to Vertiv’s leading technology solutions, the university benefited from an environmentally friendly data center, which also meets all its operational requirements.

For more information, read the full case study on the Vertiv website.

Alex Brew is Vertiv’s sales manager in the UK and Ireland.

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Balancing efficiency and performance: the innovative strategy of the data center of the University of Turin

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