Loughborough University drives data centre efficiency and reliability with Schneider Electric and on365


Schneider Electric has delivered a new data centre modernisation project for Loughborough University in collaboration with its Elite Partners, on365 - a specialist in physical IT infrastructure services for public sector, SME and corporate clients across the UK and Europe.

The project saw Schneider Electric and on365 modernise the universities IT infrastructure with new energy efficient technologies, including an EcoStruxure Row Data Center, InRow Cooling solution, Galaxy VS UPS and EcoStruxure IT software, enabling the university to harness the power of resilient IT infrastructure, data analytics and digital services to support new breakthroughs in sporting research.

A world leader in academia

Loughborough University is today ranked world number one for sports-related subjects, and is home to the UK’s largest concentration of world-class sporting facilities – with an attending body of 19,500 students across its 523-acre campus. IT is fundamental to its operations, from its high-performance computing (HPC) servers, which support analytical research projects, to a highly virtualised data centre environment that provisions critical applications including finance, administration, and security. 

To overcome a series of data centre challenges including requirements for a complete redesign, modernisation of legacy cooling systems and improved cooling efficiencies, and greater visibility of its distributed IT assets, Loughborough worked with on365 and Schneider Electric to undertake a major modernisation project at its Haslegrave and Holywell Park data centres. 

Delivered in two phases, the project saw on365 firstly modernise the Haslegrave facility by replacing an outdated raised floor and deploying an EcoStruxure Row Data Center solution – an integral part of Schneider Electric's EcoStruxure™ for Data Centers architecture an IoT-enabled system. The deployment of this, integrated row-based data centre solution has significantly improved the overall structure, enabling an efficient data centre design. 

During the upgrade, on365 also brought other parts of the infrastructure under the IT department’s control, using new InRow DX (direct expansion) units to deliver improved cooling reliability and provide it with greater ability to cope with unplanned weather events, including heat waves, which had adversely affected its IT and cooling operations in the past. 

Use of the EcoStruxure Row Data Center solution also created new space for future IT expansions and extended a ‘no single points of failure’ design throughout the facility. This made the environment more suitable for a new generation of compact and powerful servers, and the solution was replicated at Holywell Park thereafter. Further improvements in resilience and efficiency were also achieved by replacing legacy UPSs with Schneider Electric’s Galaxy VS UPS with lithium-ion batteries, which offers up to 99% energy efficiency, without compromising availability.

“At the foundational level of everything which is data-driven at the university, the Haslegrave and Holywell data centres are the power behind a host of advancements in sports science, and our transition towards a more sustainable operation,” said Mark Newall, IT specialist at the University of Loughborough. “Working with Schneider Electric and on365 has enabled our data centre to become more efficient, effective and resilient.”

Data centre management and services

Alongside the new EcoStruxure Row Data Centre, the university upgraded the software used to manage and control its infrastructure. An early adopter of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Data Center Expert software, Loughborough has now deployed the company’s EcoStruxure IT platform, providing it with enhanced levels of visibility and data-driven insights that quickly help to identify and mitigate potential faults before they become critical. 

This, in conjunction with a new three-year Schneider Electric services agreement delivered via on365, has given the university 24x7 access to expert maintenance support, reflecting its ongoing commitment to protecting the investments in its new infrastructure, and ensures the equipment is fully operational, reliable, and quality maintained. The university also utilises a large distributed, edge network environment, which has in-excess of sixty APCTM Smart-UPS single-phase UPS’s protecting it. As part of its services agreement, all critical power systems are monitored and maintained via EcoStruxure IT, providing real-time visibility and helping IT personnel to manage the campus’ network more efficiently.

“Having a well-structured preventative maintenance program is vital to ensure that the data centre and IT systems are optimised and operationally efficient,” said Carl Richardson, Technology Support Manager, on365 Ltd. “At on365, we’ve continued to collaborate closely with the university, not only to provide them with significant value, but to ensure they can meet their strict procurement governance whilst having access to our extensive support and services capabilities.”

“As a passionate advocate for sports and academia, I’m proud to see this complex project delivered successfully with our partners at on365,” said Mark Yeeles, VP, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric, UK and Ireland. “Loughborough has a prestigious reputation and prides itself on its students’ experience. Through its EcoStruxure Data Centre Solution, Schneider Electric will have played an important part in future-proofing its critical infrastructure, helping improve the reliability and sustainability of its IT operations.” 

Looking forward, Schneider Electric and on365’s work with Loughborough University has been invaluable and will play a key role in its future IT sustainability strategy. By modernising its infrastructure with the latest in resilient and energy efficient technologies and harnessing the power of both data analytics and predictive maintenance, the university has futureproofed its campus to support new breakthroughs in sporting research.

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