Data Center

Schneider Electric Mini-Pod Data Center Provisions Logicalis Hybrid Cloud at Loughborough University

The deployment of Hybrid Cloud Delivery services at Loughborough University is a subject which Simon Daykin, CTO of Logicalis, knows well. So it was with great interest that I went along to a conference session at CiscoLive earlier this month, where he talked through the University’s motivation for implementing a complete enterprise application stack – including both virtualised and non-virtualised workloads – using its own on-campus private cloud and Logicalis’ hosted cloud, via JANET (Joint Academic Network). “Hybrid Cloud allows organisations to deliver IT through multiple models, be it on-premise in their own data center, or in our data center or even public cloud as well,” says Simon Daykin.

Hybrid Cloud mini-Pod data centers are located in roof space at Loughborough University

Hybrid Cloud mini-Pod data centers are located in roof space at Loughborough University

To implement the system the University has installed two micro data centers, built using APC by Schneider Electric InfraStruxure to house its local network provisioning on a day-to-basis, with Logicalis providing additional burst capacity on an as-needs basis. The beauty of the delivery model is that it has minimised the investment required to build a data center to meet the University’s exact requirements, provided a solution which is scalable as that requirement increases and in the meantime, and is keeping operational costs low. The safety net normally provisioned by over-sizing is now provided on a pay-as-you-go basis by Logicalis cloud.
“We implemented the Hybrid model for Loughborough University enabling them to have an on-premise IT environment in their own site – it’s actually located in a bit of roof space. This is a small modular environment that is coupled with Logicalis’s very large enterprise data center 100 miles away in Slough, allowing them to deliver services through both as their needs demand,” Daykin explains.
Prior to implementing the cloud model, Loughborough University had been using an aging data center which had been built in the 1970’s and was coming to the end of its useful working life. They also had what the University’s Director of IT Services, Phil Richards, had labelled DDUDS – Distributed Data Centers Under Desks; a lot of their IT capacity was actually situated under their users’ desks!
This infrastructure has now been replaced by two mini-Pods (as the University has named them): micro data centers which incorporate all their own mechanical and electrical infrastructure including UPS and cooling equipment. The mini-Pods are APC by Schneider Electric environments; they use InRow cooling with hot aisle containment (HACS) and modular UPS to support the load. They also incorporate all the rack level security and environmental monitoring that you’d expect to see in an enterprise class data center.
Schneider Electric was chosen for the installation because of the extreme modularity of the APC InfraStruxure, and because the solution was comprehensive. Simon Daykin adds, “It’s not just one electrical system, like cabling for example, it’s the entire modular data center. That gives us the flexibility to grow out over time in an extremely cost-effective and manageable fashion.”
The micro-Pods have been deliberately built in a modular fashion so that capacity can be extended as the on-premise requirement grows. But this also gives them the choice of whether they do so, or whether they leverage external services or do a combination of both; “And they can make the choice at any time,” Daykin says.
The advantages that the University has gained by using the Hybrid Cloud Delivery service are both short-term and long-term. Simon Daykin says, “From a short-term perspective, they haven’t needed to replace that large data center, with all the very large capital costs that entails. They’ve been able to take a much more cost-effective route using the smaller micro-Pods. In the long term, they have the flexibility to provision as they need. Clearly, it’s a way that they can exploit cloud systems as cloud systems mature, whether it’s public cloud, the Logicalis cloud or by developing their own cloud services. They have total flexibility as they move forward”.

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