In 2012 Blue Chip built its own software-defined data centre (SDDC) – a move that would prove critical in keeping customers’ IBM Power systems up and running at full capacity during the 2020 lockdown.
“We’ve been able to stay open because we’ve invested in our data centre,” explains Chris Smith, Blue Chip’s Chief Marketing Officer, adding “as well as the networking and storage, the automation and orchestration software that we’ve developed allows us to deliver systems completely remotely.”
As a result, Blue Chip’s team were able to deliver systems over the Easter weekend without anyone having to travel to the site. “Everything from the data migration and the transition into our infrastructure and cloud was done remotely from home on behalf of the customer.”
When it comes to control, data centre ownership is key. Using a third party data centre, on the other hand, takes the control out of the managed service provider’s hands and ultimately compromises the security and resilience of the end user’s system.
As well as investing in technology to enhance and safeguard customer data, data centre ownership also enables Blue Chip to have complete control over its carbon footprint. (Again, something that wouldn’t be possible with a third-party facility.)
Designing an eco-friendly data centre
To keep it safe and functioning in peak condition, the cold aisle air in a data centre needs to be at a constant temperature of 20 degrees celsius.
“We have two different types of aircon systems,” says Chris. “We have a traditional air con system based on refrigerants, but it’s not very eco friendly so we reserve that as a backup. Instead, we use a technique that involves utilising the air from outside.”
So, how does it work?
Chris continues: “In the winter when the air is colder we mix it with the hot air that comes out of the IBM Power systems to bring it to the correct level and it gets recycled.
“When the temperature exceeds 20 degrees in the summer we use aerobatic (free air) cooling. Cold water filters are implemented to drop the temperature by around 10 degrees.
“30+ degrees is when the backup air con kicks in – but let’s face it, how often does that happen in the UK!”
Then there’s Power Utilisation Effectiveness (PUE). Traditional data centres that aren’t software-defined use an extra amp to run the air conditioning and lighting for every amp they use to power a computer system and keep it running.
“That’s what we’d call a bad data centre,” Chris adds. “We’re using .1 of an amp, so our carbon footprint is greatly reduced compared to pretty much any data centre out there, mainly because we’re using free air cooling.”
Blue Chip has also been planting trees in partnership with a local trust in Marston Vale, UK since its data centre was built in 2012. Each time Blue Chip utilises a full rack they plant 1,900 trees (their target is 700,000 which they are well on their way to achieving).
“It’s high on everyone’s agenda to be green at Blue Chip, which is why lots of our staff volunteer to plant the trees,” continues Chris.
“When we built the data centre we got the largest ever grant from the carbon trust at the time because we were planning to build something so eco-friendly.
“It’s also another aspect of control – we’re trying to minimise our electricity spend so that we can reinvest the money back into the data centre. It’s a unique approach centred around selling a managed service, not electricity.”
To find out more about how we can transition, manage and maintain your IBM system in the Blue Chip Cloud, get in touch with our team today.