17 March 2020

EUROCONTROL chooses Simac ICT Belgium for cold corridor implementation in its data center

Simac ICT Belgium has been selected to install cold corridors in EUROCONTROL’s Brussels data center. Cold corridors allow EUROCONTROL to reduce its carbon footprint.

EUROCONTROL is an intergovernmental organization with 41 Member States. To support its mission of building a Single European Sky that can deliver air traffic management for the twenty-first century and beyond, EUROCONTROL has two data centers, one at its European HQ in Brussels, another in Brétigny-sur-Orge near Paris.

Cold corridor leads to lower carbon footprint

In 2016, EUROCONTROL decided to adopt the cold corridor principle in its data centers. “We are very conscious of our carbon footprint,” says Danny Hermans, Data Center Manager at EUROCONTROL. “Over the last ten years, we have reduced the energy consumption in the data center by 35%. This is partly because of technological advances, which allow us to use more energy-efficient hardware. IT equipment has become smaller and consumes less power. Moreover, we have virtualized as much as possible.” Cooling of electronic equipment is one of the biggest line items on the electric bill of a data center. “For every Watt of power in the data center, you need another Watt for cooling,” Hermans explained.  Installing cold corridors decreases significantly the electricity cost.

The principle of a cold corridor is quite simple: by installing end-of-row doors and aisle ceilings, and by placing the vent of the equipment in an outward direction, it is easier to contain the conditioned air that cooling systems deliver to the cold corridor. This ‘cold corridor’ prevents the cold air inside to mix with the hot air outside. In this way, only cold air flows into the air intakes of the IT devices in the racks. This feature ensures optimal use of the conditioned air, thus reducing the electricity needed to cool the air.

Cabling & Infrastructure chosen for implementation

For the implementation of the cold corridors, EUROCONTROL first performed several site surveys, visiting other data centers that previously adopted the same principle. After an extensive study, EUROCONTROL decided to award the project management for the cold corridor project to Simac’s Cabling & Infrastructure division. For the hardware components, EUROCONTROL is standardized on APC by Schneider Electric (racks, UPS) and Panduit (cabling).

The cold corridor structures were custom designed by Simac. In the age of converged technology, IT equipment is sometimes delivered in a pre-configured rack. Anticipating their addition to the data center, this necessitates the creation of extra space and the reservation of openings in the corridor. Sliding panels were thus installed to allow for easy addition of extra equipment without having to reconfgure the cold corridor, equipped with brushes that help separate hot and cold air. All cabling and patching are color-coded and orderly arranged, to allow floor management to easily connect newly added hardware.

“We have been working with Simac for the last ten years,” Hermans continued. “We have come to appreciate the high quality they deliver. You cannot underestimate the importance of cabling in a mission critical data center. We need high-quality connectivity to support our business. Correctly installed cabling is a must.

Hermans also praises the flexibility of Simac. “The business of EUROCONTROL is mission-critical, we cannot afford any downtime. On average, EUROCONTROL manages about 30,000 flights a day, and delays potentially cause enormous economic damage. Hence the set-up with two identical and fully redundant data centers, and equipment duplication in each of them. “EUROCONTROL works 24/7, and we only have a limited number of scheduled maintenance windows. This must be considered when implementing major changes in the data center, such as the conversion to cold corridors. That’s why we demand great flexibility from integrators like Simac.”

“Simac C&I has been selected to work for EUROCONTROL on several occasions,” says Andy Vanbrabant, Director of Simac’s Cabling & Infrastructure division. “Working in such a mission-critical environment keeps our people on edge, not only in designing the solution but also in physically implementing it. Working in this demanding setting allows us to demonstrate the quality of our work, day after day.”

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