University of Lincoln Modernises Edge Environments with Schneider Electric and RMD

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Schneider Electric has delivered an edge data centre modernisation project for the University of Lincoln - one of the world’s top 150 universities according to the Times Higher Education’s (THE) Young University Rankings 2023 - in collaboration with its Elite Data Centre Partners at RMD UK, a specialist service provider for data centres and industrial systems with more than 25 years of experience in IT power and cooling. 

Today the university operates a centralised data centre, where users of the campus, including the admin team, students, and educators, as well as its research and commercial partners, are dependent upon SaaS applications for the majority of tasks. This makes uptime and reliable access to cloud services a critical requirement for all users of the network throughout its twenty-five buildings.

“We open a new building nearly every year,” said Darran Coy, Senior Infrastructure Analyst, ICT Services, University of Lincoln, “and each one needs its own comms room populated with IT racks including servers and networking equipment, together with all the necessary supporting infrastructure including cooling, structured cabling, power distribution (PDUs) and power protection. It is the epitome of edge computing.”

Meeting the Challenge of Reliability at the Edge 

Although the utility supply in Lincoln is generally reliable, the university's city-centre campus buildings are not equipped with any standby power generating capabilities. Consequently, ICT Services depend heavily on APCä uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to build resilience into the network. Currently, there are 110 Schneider Electric APC Smart-UPS SRT units deployed across the university’s distributed edge facilities, which provide power protection and continuity in the event of disruptions or disturbances to the mains power supply.

Darran Coy and the team at the University of Lincoln began their relationship with RMD UK over a decade ago, when the Schneider Electric Elite Partner won a tender to replace some of its legacy APC Smart-UPS. Soon after, the university took the step to implement a digital services programme to ensure regular inspection and maintenance of the UPS systems, contracting RMD UK to provide the service. 

Other important measures have been implemented as a result of the relationship, including the installation of APC NetBotz environmental monitoring devices, as well as Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT Expert and Data Centre Expert Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software. 

The Schneider Electric software provides the University of Lincoln with full visibility of its distributed IT equipment across the campus, enabling ICT Services to centrally manage and monitor all elements of its data centre physical infrastructure - from the temperature within the edge server rooms to the health and condition of the UPSs, and their associated battery runtime. This not only enables the IT team to prioritise ongoing remedial tasks and respond more quickly to unforeseen events and outages, but has also allowed cooling in the data centres and edge facilities to be optimised for greater operational efficiency and lower power consumption.

Further demonstrating how RMD’s expertise has benefitted the university, the partner recommended fitting bypass panels as an aid to UPS maintenance and replacement activities, enabling servicing to be carried out without compromising the IT load. Bypass panels are now being retrofitted to existing UPS deployments and have been made standard in the electrical design for all infrastructure supporting the universities new edge server rooms. 

Moving towards net zero

For the University of Lincoln, immediate results from its work with RMD and Schneider Electric include improvements to power availability as well as the serviceability of its infrastructure. By increasing temperature setpoints, the university is also saving energy as a further step towards reaching net zero carbon operations for its infrastructure and IT services.

“The modernisation strategy chosen by the University of Lincoln demonstrates why improving the reliability of the IT network goes hand-in-hand with reducing its environmental impact,” said Mark Yeeles, Vice President, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric, UK and Ireland. “The university now has a more operationally and energy efficient infrastructure system, which importantly, helps towards its target of becoming net zero, and provides a resilient learning environment for future generations of students to further their education.” 

“For many years now RMD has partnered with the University of Lincoln to support its IT and power requirements and underpin its reputation as one of the world’s leading universities,” said Scot Docherty, Business Development Consultant, RMD Power & Cooling. “Through the use of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure software, its APC power protection solutions and its digital services programme, we’re able to help the university ensure maximum efficiency and reliability across its critical systems and take another step towards its environmental goals.”

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