Auto Supplier Builds World Class Data Center with Assistance from SIS and AFI
A global auto-supplier headquartered in Europe, boasts a proud history of two and a half centuries in the automotive and aerospace sectors. With around 50,000 employees and locations in over 30 countries this organization is quite versatile with four main divisions: Aerospace, Auto Components, Metallurgy, and Defense Systems. A requirement for a new North American headquarters and technology center in Michigan called for a world class data center to support engineering and manufacturing operations for multiple North American divisions.
To help bring this vision to life, Jim Schoenle, an account executive with SIS, worked closely with IT site manager, Jason, to lay out a plan to meet these requirements for this massive undertaking. This was not your typical data center build in that it would be supporting all of their North American locations, a secure 24/7 operation with zero tolerance for downtime was critical. To help meet these requirements, Jim brought SIS design-build partner, Advanced Facilities, Inc., on board to assist with design and engineering efforts.
This new headquarters was to be designed from scratch making it a rare moment in the life of an IT executive since this data center was a vision, and not an existing room in a building that would need to be transformed. With this in mind, the client realized they needed a partner they could trust to pull this off. Purchases of big ticket items like a UPS or CRAC were one thing, but to have everything integrated into a robust and fully functional data center was quite another.
Years of Data Center Experience
|At-a-Glance Industry: Manufacturing
Challenge: The client needed assistance with building a new world-class data center to support North American Operations.
Results: Delivered project within a very tight timeline and on budget
With Advanced Facilities in place providing the data center design-build expertise, SIS was able to articulate the necessity of a scope-of-work for the new data center that would be separate from the A&E and Contracting firms. This was important because the space and design requirements that are needed to handle a data center of this capacity, especially one responsible for the North American operations, was something that SIS and Advanced Facilities’ many years of experience in building out unique data centers called for.
Before breaking ground on construction, the SIS and the Advanced Facilities team coordinated with the client’s IT team to design and develop the new data center, including the space requirements needed. The design laid out was a result of dozens of cases where a focus on best-practices, low operating costs, and high availability were perfected. Once, those space requirements were established, it was untouched by the general contractor.
“Tim and his team were great” said Jason in regards to Tim Amann, President of Advanced Facilities. “Not only did he guide us through the process of helping us understand our true availability requirements, his team then designed the facility to those needs. He was able to act as an intermediary with the architect and general contractor to ensure the combined project went smoothly.”
As expected, the construction phase of the project brought its’ own challenges in the sense that if this had been an existing building, the construction of the data center would have been a standard two to three month project. Since the manufacturing cannot happen without IT systems in place, SIS and Advanced Facilities would need to execute the project in less than half the normal time allotted. Although under unprecedented pressure, the project was completed on time and would be facing the first true test sooner than expected. Several months after construction was completed, the region was hit by a very powerful wind storm causing several power outages in the area, including the new headquarters.
New Data Center Passes Real World Test
Jason described what took place to Tim Amann of Advanced Facilities. “We had a building catastrophe around 1:30pm. The building lost power for about 5 minutes. The entire building was dark and the data center failed over to UPS, activated the generator, switched to generator in about 3-5 seconds, air conditioning fired back up. The room was back to a proper cooling state in about 5-7 minutes. We ran on the generator for the minimum 30 minutes. The system automatically detected stable utility power and switched back once the minimum 30 minutes lapsed. All hands-off, I just watched it go through the motions.”
Jason ended with, “It was great to watch. Everything went exactly as designed. It was a wonderful thing!”
Since the project’s completion, SIS continues to work closely with the client to provide technology and data center enhancements to help meet their long term goals. These include updates around VMware, virtualization, data replication strategies, as well as guidance on secondary data center failover solutions. This on-going support will be critical to the client’s long term goals as backup and data protection requirements will continue to be a focus for 2015 and beyond.