Case studies
Published: 3/6/2021

The CE Colo Data Center

CE Colo is one of the strongest Central European data service provider. The company owns and operates data centers in five countries accross the area – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Rumania. CE Colo also provides Neutral Internet Exchange (NIX) points in many countries. The Czech NIX.CZ links 120 members and customers today, utilizing five data centers in Prague: the Žižkov Tower, GTS Telehouse, T-Systems Telehouse, TTC Telekomunikace, and CE Colo.

The CE Colo data center is located in the southern part of the town, in Nad Elektrárnou street. The company held a tender in 2013 to supply a monitoring and management system for integration of existing technologies, metering readouts and cost allocation. The tender was won by Altron who chose Domat Control System as subcontractor for data acquisition hardware and software, database storage, and CRM system.

As the installed components are of different brands, and it was necessary to strictly keep the uptime requirements for all technologies during the works, the installation and go-live were more demanding than in case of brand new plants. Three powerful process stations IPLC510 and one SoftPLC runtime are used for data acquisition. In this way the technology could have been optimized for existing bus systems and all data could have been brought to a standard format as close to the measuring spots as possible. All data are communicated over a technological network. One IPLC controller integrates air handling units with Carel controllers over Modbus RTU, 16 Ethernet temperature and humidity sensors in the floors of the data rooms, and Schneider BPCM (Branch Circuit Power Meter) units. As their name says, these units are monitoring the power supplies of racks which are installed in the rooms. Power and energy are monitored at 400 outputs, and the data are used for customers cost allocation and planning of rack and room allocation. Another two process stations integrate other BPCM units with total of 2800 data points.

The SoftPLC Runtime at one of the servers integrates about 4500 cooling system data points (JCI controls) over BACnet/IP, and another 5000 variables from the original monitoring system over the SoftPLC File Driver. The values monitored are technology temperatures, protection elements, chillers, and power data – AC currents, powers, voltages at the bars, so that the operators always have a complete overview on the states of all distribution boards. Other measured values are data from 12 UPS units over SNMP, about 500 data points from the lift control system, cold water distribution (valve positions, pump pressures), boiler room alarms, Schrack fire system integration etc.

Data are available as current values over a web interface of the management system, and as trend data after processing in the RcWare DB powerful database and ContPort presentation. ContPort is a management system based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Version 2011. It is run on two physical servers. The servers contain a disk array with all components duplicated (power supplies, controllers, every disk has two controllers, attachment of every disk array to the server follows over two separate SAS cables). The third server operates the vCenter server (with VMWare HA configuration). The application servers are virtualized in VMWare VSphere Standard. The HA option (high availability cluster) is used, which means that if one of the disks should fail, the virtual servers will be automatically started on the second physical server. The original idea was to use the VMWare failover, however, the functionality originally planned by VMWare is not available for a multiprocessor system in Version 5.

Besides monitoring and energy readouts, a very important part of the system is the rack management. This functionality is crucial for the data center management, as rack rentals are the staple service provided by CE Colo. The rack management further links the management of other types of services, such as telecommunication services, CIOMIS services, power supply services, and Remote Hands services. It makes possible to localize the ends of data and power cabling together with measured values. The Business relations module maintains customers and subcontractors. Other modules in the system are Contacts, Contracts, Telco services, and Tickets. The center management always has an overview of assigned tasks and their progress. Many functions are automated or semi-automated, such as e-mail notification on regular maintenance events: it is, thanks to information about where hardware of a particular customer is located, sent only to those customers which may be affected by the planned service task. A very important value is PUE (Power usage effectiveness), or relation of the total consumed energy to this consumed on IT equipment only. The less this parameter is, the less part of energy is spent on cooling, lights, and other technologies. This means that ContPort helps saving energy and thus decrease the operational costs of the data center.

Implementation of the CRM was nominated for the Microsoft Industry Awards 2014. The supplied solution met the demanding expectations of the customer who needed a system combining a database system with visualisation of online measured values from the technologies (power, cooling, temperature and humidity sensors, flooding etc.). The solution named ContPort DC is unique thanks to its broad range. The CRM part offers information about the customers, contracts and their parameters, and provided services (rented racks, data links, telco services, service works at the servers etc.), while the system covers the helpdesk tasks at the same time (accepting and processing tickets of different types), as well as the management system tasks together with visualisation of online data and alarms. This is a unique combination of functions which usually exist on a separate basis only (CRM, Help Desk, SCADA).

The main benefit of the new solution is integration of all information into one system with easy update functions and evaluation from aggregated, summary views down to smallest details. This helps to unify the information flows across the whole corporation, and make them available in the shortest possible time. Data security and access to different categories of information (engineers & operations vs. sales) was covered at the same time.

However, the most important asset is the real-time online monitoring of the building technologies together with the links to the current technology data. This, combined with customer data management, brings interaction of two apparently different worlds – operation of data center technologies, and customer relationship management. Another pro is higher control over subcontractors at the help desk operation.